In an interview with Turkey’s Haberturk TV on Friday, Cengiz said she believed the invitation was aimed at influencing public opinion in the president’s favor. She added that she would not visit the White House unless the U.S. both made a sincere effort to solve Khashoggi’s killing and demanded that all those responsible be tried and punished.
Cengiz, a Turkish national, was placed under 24-hour police protection in Turkey on Monday, just days after Saudi Arabia finally admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside its consulate in Istanbul.
She was one of the last people to see Khashoggi alive, having gone with him to the consulate on Oct. 2. She waited outside for nearly 12 hours, alerting friends and officials when he failed to emerge.
A week after his disappearance, Cengiz wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post urging Trump to help shed light on her fiancé’s disappearance. “Jamal is a valuable person, an exemplary thinker and a courageous man who has been fighting for his principles,” she wrote. “I don’t know how I can keep living if he was abducted or killed in Turkey.”
Khashoggi, who was a Washington Post columnist, had once been close to Saudi Arabia’s royal family but had grown increasingly critical of the kingdom’s human rights abuses in recent years. He was living in self-imposed exile in Washington, D.C., and had traveled to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain marriage documents.
In the weeks that followed his disappearance, Turkish officials released grisly details of Khashoggi’s death and alleged dismemberment inside the consulate. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, claiming he left freely on foot shortly after getting the papers. But in shifting statements, the kingdom later acknowledged his death and then on Thursday admitted the killing was “premeditated.”
Trump initially accepted the Saudis’ denials, but has since hardened his rhetoric, saying the killing “was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups.”
The president and other U.S. officials have faced criticism for not responding forcefully to Khashoggi’s disappearance.