Widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi finally granted political asylum in US

Widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi finally granted political asylum in US
The widow of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Hanan Elatr, has officially been granted political asylum the US.
3 min read
22 December, 2023
Hanan Elatr, the wife of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, during an interview earlier this year [Getty]

The widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been granted political asylum in the US, The Washington Post newspaper reported on Thursday. 

Hanan Elatr fled to the US in August 2020 fearing for her safety, following her husband’s death in 2018. 

The BBC also confirmed Elatr’s indefinite asylum status via proof of documentation- stating that it had been approved on 28 November. 

The Washington Post cited Hanan Elatr as saying "I couldn't really believe it" after she read the letter informing her of the decision.

Elatr, a former Emirates flight attendant, said her life was in danger if she returned to the UAE, where she resided for 25 years, or to Egypt, where she is originally from. Both countries are strong allies of Saudi Arabia.

"We did win," Ms Elatr told the BBC. "Yes, they took Jamal's life and they destroyed my life, but we did win." 

Abandoning her previous life and work, Elatr relocated to Maryland where she was eventually granted a work permit in October 2021. 

However, she still struggles to make ends meet, according to her lawyer Randa Fahmy. 

Following her interview with US immigration services, Fahmy believed that Elatr’s application took longer than usual due to ongoing negotiations between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

The pair enlisted the help of several members of Congress, including Virginia congressman Don Beyer and Senator Tim Kaine, who were hailed as the "champions on Capitol Hill". 

Elatr and her attorney believe that securing political asylum will kickstart "[their] case further to bring justice for Jamal". 

This follows Elatr’s plans to sue the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, alleging that she was targeted with its notorious Pegasus spyware

Hanan Elatr also intends to sue Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their alleged role in installing it on her mobile phone, according to The Guardian

NSO Group has rejected claims of involvement in Khashoggi's killing, and say their software is only sold to government agencies to target criminals and terrorists. 

Khashoggi was married to Elatr since 2018 but later lived separately for a certain period until he began a relationship with Hatice Cengiz, according to The Washington Post. 

Khashoggi was a columnist with The Washington Post who was murdered on the grounds of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

Western governments have been criticised for strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia in recent years despite human rights abuses in the kingdom.