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'They will regret what they did to my husband'

February 27, 2021

Hanan El Atr, an Egyptian woman who said she married Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi months before he was killed, told DW she had come forward to deliver his message.

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Image: picture-alliance/abaca/Balkis

Egyptian woman Hanan El Atr has come forward claiming to be the wife of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after the CIA released a report claiming that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi's death in October 2018. Riyadh has rejected the claims.

El Atr told DW's Oliver Sallet that she was "devastated" about the revelations in the report, saying her husband was not dangerous enough that he needed to be trapped and murdered. "I'm sure if they know the truth about Jamal, and I'm allowed to say his message and his truth, they will really regret what they did to my husband," she added.

El Atr also thanked US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for holding the Saudi crown prince accountable for Khashoggi's death. "They kept their word for human rights, they emphasize, and they've been transparent and help the truth to come out, which has encouraged me now, because I'm free to talk now, because I didn't have this freedom for two years," she said.

Khashoggi's wife recently sought asylum in the US after having been released from house arrest in the United Arab Emirates. She said she had come forward now to "deliver" her husband's message. "It's not been delivered till now. It's been missed out in the middle of all of this polarization and the misuse of his tragedy," she said.

Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman
The US Central Intelligence Agency believes Mohammed bin Salman was behind Khashoggi's murderImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/G20 Press Office

She also said she hoped Khashoggi's death would serve to spotlight human rights abuses against journalists in Saudi Arabia. "I hope everybody learns from Jamal's tragedy and to stop this acting, this crime against humans, against journalists," she said. "Journalists, they're doing their job to transfer the truth about people and to help people to get a better life."

"They shouldn't be tortured," she added. "They shouldn't be killed. They shouldn't be stopped from saying the truth. And this I expect from President Biden and his vice president, Ms. Harris."

Marriage questioned

El Atr married Khashoggi in a religious ceremony in Washington D.C. in June 2018, a few months before he was killed. The marriage was not officially registered and Khashoggi appears to have kept the relationship secret from his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

El Atr says she is now trying to get the marriage certificate recognized in the US, though Cengiz has questioned her credibility.

The Washington Post, for whom Khashoggi worked, reported that El Atr had shown its reporters text messages between Khashoggi and El Atr as well as photos of the Islamic wedding ceremony.

Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly by a special commando unit sent from Riyadh. The Saudi government has denied its involvement in the killing, while five people have been sentenced to prison in a Saudi court for the murder.

This article has been corrected to clarify the relationship between Hanan El Atr and Jamal Khashoggi.

Benjamin Knight Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH
Ben Knight Ben Knight is a journalist in Berlin who mainly writes about German politics.@BenWernerKnight