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Khashoggi’s Fiancée: Saudi Deal for Newcastle a ‘Desperate Attempt’ to Improve MBS’ Reputation

© AFP 2023 / FAYEZ NURELDINEMohammed bin Salman (2nd L)
Mohammed bin Salman (2nd L) - Sputnik International
The fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is calling on the English Premier League to block the reported takeover of Newcastle United, asserting the completion of the deal would help repair Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) reputation and make the league complicit in the “cover-up” of the 2018 killing.

Hatice Cengiz attempted this week to push back against the suspected acquisition of an 80% stake in English football club Newcastle United by the Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, which is currently under the control of MBS, who has been accused of orchestrating the murder of Khashoggi.

Lawyer Rodney Dixon QC issued a letter on Tuesday to the Premier League and Richard Masters, the football league’s chief executive, on behalf of Cengiz that declared there is no place in the football league for governments or anyone "involved in such abhorrent acts" like the October 2018 premeditated murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi.

"It is undoubtedly the right, proper and lawful action for you and the Premier League to take, especially in light of the ruthless killing of Ms Cengiz's fiancée [sic]," the document read, as reported by the BBC.

"The standing of both the Premiership and English football in general would be tarnished by your connection with those who commit the most appalling crimes and then seek to whitewash them, and who seek to use English football as a way of improving their image and hiding their transgressions."

The letter issued on Cengiz’s behalf warned that there are “no limits” when it comes to the Saudi government and MBS’ actions taken against adversaries.

According to the BBC, the Saudi deal is rumored to be worth £300 million - or $373.8 million USD.

“I trust the Premier League and British authorities value their own principles and reputation above this transparent attempt at sports-washing,” Cengiz said in a Tuesday follow-up statement obtained by The Guardian. “Sports-washing” refers to the practice of a country improving its international standing or reputation by funneling money into sports.

Saudi Arabia received backlash from Turkey and the international community in December 2019 over the sentencing of five suspects to death and the 24-year jailing of another three individuals for the killing of Khashoggi. More recently, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office charged 20 Saudi citizens for the crime, demanding 18 of the accused serve life sentences.

Cengiz asserted via her statement that any deal that is in some way associated with Saudi-controlled funds is nothing more than “desperate attempt to save [MBS’] reputation.”

Though the Saudi government has not confirmed interest and reports of a forthcoming deal on Newcastle United, human rights groups have also protested the heavily-circulated allegation.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen contended last week that there are “serious questions for the Premier League to address” when it comes to the possibility of MBS, through control of the sovereign wealth fund, becoming Newcastle United’s “beneficial owner.”

“Whether or not this deal goes ahead, we’re calling on Newcastle United staff and fans to familiarise themselves with the dire human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and be prepared to speak out about it,” Allen said in the April 21 news release from Amnesty UK.

She added that the Premier League should relay their assessment of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in the event that the reported deal comes to fruition.

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