Journalist Jamal Khashoggi had gone missing since 2nd October after entering the Instanbul consulate. The pressure was mounting on the kingdom to reveal the truth. Finally, early on Saturday, the Saudi government acknowledged that Jamal Khashoggi was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul, saying he died during a fist fight. But, it still remains unclear where Khashoggi’s body is, following his killing.
The announcement which came in a tweet from the Saudi foreign ministry, said that a preliminary investigation by the government’s general prosecutor found that Khashoggi had been in discussions with people inside the consulate when a quarrel broke out, escalating to a fatal fist fight.
The Saudi government said it has fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Major General Ahmed al-Assiri.
“Discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace,” the attorney-general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement.
Ever since Khashoggi disappeared on 2nd October, Saudi officials have repeatedly said that he left the consulate alive and that they had no information about his whereabouts. He had gone to the consulate to obtain a document that would allow him to marry his fiancée Hatice Cengiz.
Turkish investigators had concluded days ago that Khashoggi, was killed and dismembered. They also claimed to have audio and video recordings providing evidence that he was interrogated, killed and then cut into several pieces.
The United States President Donald Trump had acknowledged Khashoggi was likely dead and said he would consider “very severe consequences” if Saudi Arabia is found responsible.
Who was Jamal Khashoggi ?
Kashoggi was a prominent journalist who has covered major stories, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden, for various Saudi news organisations. He was a former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel.
He had been close to the royal family and he also served as an adviser to the government. But he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile since September 2017. From there, he wrote monthly columns in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the country’s king, Salman of Saudi Arabia.