Khashoggi’s widow received political asylum in the United States

The widow of Jamal Khashoggi, who went into hiding after the Washington Post columnist was killed by a Saudi hit squad in 2018, has been granted political asylum in the United States.

“I really couldn't believe it,” Hanan Elatr said after reading the letter informing him of the decision. “I said, ‘Is this real?' I couldn't stomach it.” He said the decision “shows us that there is one victim who is still alive.”

This month's ruling upholds Elatry's claim that his life would be in danger if he returned to his native Egypt or the United Arab Emirates, where he lived for 26 years before killing Jamal Khashoggi.

It could also be one of the final acts in the long-running Khashoggi drama, which once seemed to threaten US-Saudi relations, but whose tensions have eased under former President Donald Trump's administration and ended with the latest decision by the Biden administration. Reconciling with Saudi Arabia and granting sovereign immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA concluded ordered the assassination of Khashoggi.

“Hanan Khashoggi has the clearest case imaginable for political asylum, and I am happy to be able to help him get these vital protections,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a statement. “After what he and his family have been through, it's good that they've received this recognition and the safety measures that come with it.” I will continue to support Ms. Khashoggi as she seeks accountability for her husband's murder. A terrible injustice that I will not forget.”

In his asylum application, Elatr told US authorities that Egypt detained and mistreated his family and confiscated their passports because of their relationship with Khashoggi. In 2018, four months before his assassination, the United Arab Emirates detained and interrogated him and installed military-grade spyware on his confiscated phones. It was a period when he and Khashoggi were in constant communication.

His lawyer Randa Fahmy said Elatri is seeking compensation from the Saudi government for his wife's death and is asking Turkey to return Khashoggi's phones so they can be analyzed.

The United Arab Emirates, a longtime ally of Saudi Arabia, has denied allegations that it planted the Pegasus spyware on Elatr devices or spied on civil society activists and disgruntled royals, as previously reported by the Washington Post.

Khashoggi, who once worked at the Saudi embassy in Washington, has become an effective critic of bin Salman's crackdown and arrests of citizens who advocated for greater freedom of expression and democratic reforms. By 2018, he had been warned not to return and had settled in Northern Virginia, where he was previously married, raising children and owning an apartment.

In March 2018, the couple, who met in 2009, became romantically involved. In June, they were married in an Islamic ceremony in Northern Virginia. They continued to live separately; he in Fairfax; He was in Dubai, where he worked as an airline attendant for Emirates Airlines.

But Khashoggi felt increasingly depressed and isolated, and they decided to move to Turkey, where many Saudis live. Elatr said Khashoggi believed his voice could have more influence there. He did not know that he had started a relationship with another woman in Turkey.

In October 2018, as Khashoggi was preparing to marry a young Turkish academic, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document his father had requested, proving he was not married. Knowing he was coming, a team of assassins from Saudi Arabia was flown in beforehand. Investigators determined they strangled her, dismembered her body with a bone saw and removed her body parts in luggage.

In July 2020, Elatr lost his longtime job as a flight attendant when Emirates refused to renew his contract. Without it, he could no longer live in Dubai. He soon flew to Washington and, fearing for his safety, hid in his lawyer's apartment for a year and a half.

He spent most of his savings and slept on an air mattress in an empty apartment for a while. At age 53, she moved into a stranger's basement bedroom While waiting for his political asylum case to be completed in the system.

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state; However, as president, he punched Muhammad in 2022, reconciled with him and granted him sovereign immunity, which quickly ended the US civil suit that Cegnis had filed against him for murder.