Saudi Arabia admits journalist was killed

Refuting previous denials, Saudi Arabia admits Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its Istanbul consulate after a fight broke out.

Tzvi Lev,

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Reuters

Amid rising international backlash, Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering its consulate in Istanbul.

A report on Saudi Arabia's state-owned television channel said that Khashoggi was murdered at the consulate earlier this month after a brawl broke out. According to the report, the meeting "did not go as required and developed in a negative way, leading to a fight and a quarrel".

"The brawl aggravated to lead to his death and their attempt to conceal and cover what happened".

Deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri was reportedly fired over the incident, along with a senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Another 18 men involved were arrested over their role in the affair.

Following the report, United States President Donald Trump said that he was satisfied with the Saudis explanation.

"Again, it's early. We haven't finished our review, our investigation. But I think it's a very important first step," said the president on Friday.

The report comes after Turkish police concluded last weekend that Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who was also a contributor to The Washington Post, was murdered inside the Saudi mission in Istanbul after going missing.

Khashoggi, 59, was a former government advisor who went into exile last year after 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman rose to power underneath his father the king.

He has been critical of the monarchy's continued arrest of critics on both the left and right, despite its professed reforms.

Multiple Turkish reports said that Khashoggi had entered the Saudi consulate with an Apple iWatch smartwatch that documented his interrogation and murder.

According to the report, Khashoggi first approached the consul's room and was then dragged by two senior intelligence officers to a second room where he was interrogated and tortured until he was murdered.

The report said that the Saudis realized that he had recorded the murder only at a later stage and managed to erase only some of the files. His phone remained with his fiancée, and she transferred the phone to the Turkish security forces, who reportedly managed to recover the files and listen to the recordings.




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