UN panel urges Saudi Arabia to stop torture, free activists

Al Jazeera

A United Nations human rights watchdog urged Saudi authorities to free more than a dozen rights activists detained in the kingdom, alleging some had been tortured or mistreated during interrogation. The UN Committee against Torture, in a letter dated Tuesday and posted online, advanced "serious allegations" that activists have been detained without charge in Dhahban prison near Jeddah since May. It said activists - including Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Mohammad al-Rabe'a and Ibrahim Modeimigh - suffered "torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation". The panel called for their release and that of six other activists, including blogger Raif Badawi. Badawi has been publicly flogged for expressing dissenting opinions online and is serving a 10-year sentence handed down in 2014 for breaking technology laws and insulting Islam.


Turkey seeks access to search Saudi consulate in Khashoggi case

Al Jazeera

Turkey has formally requested access to search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul as part of what Turkish officials say is a murder investigation into the case of missing Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi. Officials in Istanbul told Al Jazeera they "expect [Saudi Arabia's] full cooperation during the investigation" into the fate of the missing journalist, amid reports that he may have been killed. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate on October 2 to sort out paperwork, and Turkish sources told Reuters news agency on Saturday they believed he was killed inside the building in what they described as a "premeditated murder". On Sunday, Turkish Deputy Minister Sedat Onal summoned the Saudi ambassador to Turkey to the foreign ministry for a second time since Khashoggi's disappearance, sources at the ministry told Al Jazeera. Onal told the ambassador that Turkey expects Saudi Arabia to cooperate fully during the investigation process.


Khashoggi case: A 'chilling message to dissidents worldwide'

Al Jazeera

Istanbul, Turkey - Activists and journalists agree that the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist after a visit to his country's Istanbul consulate sends a "chilling" and "extremely distressing" message to dissidents and journalists from Saudi Arabia and all around the world. Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of his government's policies, entered the consulate to take care of paperwork on October 2 but never left the premises, according the Turkish authorities. He needed the documents in question to be able to marry his Turkish fiancee, who was waiting for him outside the building on the day of his disappearance. Dana Ahmed, a Saudi Arabia researcher with Amnesty International, said that Khashoggi's case "sends a shockwave" through the Saudi Arabian dissident community, both inside the country and abroad. "[It] sends a chilling message to any dissident or human rights defender that they are not safe anywhere. It erodes any notion of safety from the authorities' repression of dissent," she told Al Jazeera.


Journalist's fiancee demands justice after 'death squad' killing

Al Jazeera

London - The fiancee of the murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi has demanded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reveal the whereabouts of his body. In an emotional plea, Hatice Cengiz told an audience in London: "I believe that the Saudi regime knows where his body is: they should answer my demand, for this is not only the demand of a fiancee but a human and Islamic demand." In a moving tribute to Khashoggi - who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 - Cengiz called on the international community to ensure there is no cover-up of his murder. Speaking for the first time outside Turkey, she said: "I want justice to be served - not only for those who murdered my beloved Jamal, but for those who organised it and gave the order for it. These questions are not just my questions: they are being asked by millions. "I want the role of the political leadership in this brutal killing to be brought to light." Speaker after speaker at the homage organised by Middle East Monitor and the Al Sharq Forum to commemorate The Washington Post columnist placed the blame for his death squarely on the shoulders of bin Salman. Cengiz said her fiancee's death had left a "void" in her life and had turned him into a "martyr" for the cause of democracy in Saudi Arabia. The writer was highly critical of the Saudi leadership and left his homeland for the United States last year after growing fearful for his safety. "If only I knew what would happen, I would have entered the consulate myself...


Jamal Khashoggi murder: No closure without body, says fiancee

Al Jazeera

Jamal Khashoggi's remains have not been found four months after his brutal murder and there is no grave where his loved ones can grieve and pray, the Saudi dissident's fiancee has said. "It is important for us that the body is found, that we have a place at which his beloved ones could say prayers," Hatice Cengiz said in Istanbul on Friday during the release of the book, Jamal Khashoggi: His Life, Struggles and Secrets. The 228-page book, written by two Turkish journalists, is based on interviews with Cengiz, who described it as "emotional" as it portrays a side of Khashoggi seen by those closest to him. Khashoggi was murdered by a team of Saudi operatives on October 2 last year inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to collect documents to marry Cengiz. After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi's fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.