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Khashoggi murder: Fiancee demands punishment for Saudi prince ‘without delay’

A CIA report has accused Mohammed bin Salman of approving Khashoggi's murder, but Washington stopped short of sanctioning him
Hatice Cengiz says 'there is no longer any political legitimacy' for Mohammed bin Salman after US intelligence report concluded he authorised the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (AFP)

The Turkish fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Monday that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman should be "punished without delay" over the murder.

The comments come days after the United States declassified a report that publicly accused the crown prince of approving Khashoggi murder in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in 2018.

Activists and rights groups were quick to call for US sanctions against bin Salman on Friday.

But the United States stopped short of applying sanctions against the 35-year-old de facto leader, known by his initials MBS.

"It is essential that the Crown Prince, who ordered the brutal murder of a blameless and innocent person, should be punished without delay," Hatice Cengiz said in a statement posted on her official Twitter account in English and Arabic.

"This will not only bring the justice we have been seeking for Jamal, but it could also prevent similar acts recurring in the future," she said. 

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Khashoggi, a former Saudi government insider and journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and Middle East Eye, resided in the US before his death.

Saudi government agents murdered him and dismembered his body at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, while he was trying to retrieve personal paperwork for his wedding to Cengiz, in October 2018. 

After initially insisting that Khashoggi left the building alive, Saudi officials acknowledged more than two weeks after the murder that the journalist had been killed. Riyadh insists that the assassination was a rogue operation that happened without the approval of top officials.

The murder sent shockwaves throughout Washington, amplifying criticism against the kingdom in Congress, but then-president Donald Trump moved to shield Riyadh and particularly the crown prince from the fallout.

‘No political legitimacy’

Cengiz said that "following this report, there is no longer any political legitimacy for the crown prince".

But she said the US report did not go far enough. 

"The truth - that was already known - has been revealed one more time, and it is now confirmed.

"Yet this is not enough," she warned, "since the truth can only be meaningful when it serves justice being achieved."

Cengiz said if the crown prince was not punished, "it will forever signal that the main culprit can get away with murder which will endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity."

The Saudi government, which initially said it had no information on Khashoggi, says it accepts responsibility for the killing but casts it as a rogue operation that did not involve the prince.

In a statement late Friday, the Saudi foreign ministry said it "completely rejects" the declassified US report.

Gulf neighbours Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have expressed support for Riyadh following the CIA report.