Saudi Arabia admits journalist Khashoggi killed in consulate

Saudi Arabia admits journalist Khashoggi killed in consulate
Saudi Arabia has admitted after weeks of denials that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul, state media reported.

2 min read
20 October, 2018
Saudi Arabia has denied reports the journalist was killed in its consulate [Getty]
Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed "after a fist fight" inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Riyadh admitted on Saturday, state media reported.

"The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul... devolved into a fist fight, leading to his death", the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.

The statement comes after two weeks of denials from Saudi officials amid lurid and grisly allegations detailing Khashoggi's death leaked by Turkish police and others.

Riyadh authorities said 18 Saudi nationals were being investigated for their involvement in the murder, noting a royal order dismissing Ahmad al-Assiri, the deputy intelligence chief and former spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, alongside Saud al-Qahtani, a senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The acknowledgment of Khashoggi's death came after staff members from Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul testified on Friday at the chief prosecutor's office as part of a probe into his disappearance, Anadolu reported.

Fifteen staff, all Turkish nationals, were giving statements, according to NTV television. The development follows a thorough search of the consulate and the residence of the consul by Turkish authorities.

Turkish police are also searching the Belgrad Forest outside Istanbul for Khashoggi's body, with authorities now looking into the possibility that his remains could have been taken out of the Saudi consulate.

Washington Post columnist Khashoggi disappeared on 2 October when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to complete some routine paperwork. Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States after fearing for his own safety in Saudi Arabia.

Turkish intelligence have said they have audio and video recordings of Khashoggi's torture and brutal killing in the compound and are investigating a possible 15-man murder squad who are key suspects in the case.

Police have established that two vehicles belonging to the consulate left the building on the same day he went missing.

Until now, Saudi Arabia has denied claims Khashoggi was killed in its consulate and insisted that he left the building, although failed to provide any evidence to support their claims.