RIYADH – After weeks of disputed claims over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that the journalist was killed inside the consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday
RIYADH – After weeks of disputed claims over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that the journalist was killed inside the consulate in Istanbul.
The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that Khashoggi died inside the consulate after a conversation ‘did not proceed in the desired manner’ citing the initial investigations.
Saudi Arabia’s general prosecutor described early Saturday that there was a ‘fistfight that led to his death’.
The fresh confirmation is in flagrant contradiction with what the Crown Prince told Bloomberg a few weeks back that Khashoggi had left the consulate after some time.
‘My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour. I’m not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time,’ he told Bloomberg at the time.
When asked to confirm that Khashoggi is not inside the consulate, the 32-year-old crown prince replied, ‘Yes, he’s not inside.’
Administration Shaken Up
The Oil-rich kingdom has shaken up the administrative set up following the death of Jamal Khashoggi and eighteen Saudis have been arrested in connection with the case including a top intelligence official, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri; Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and royal court advisor Abdullah Al-Qahtani.
The kingdom has set up a commission to investigate what happened which will put forward its report within a month.
The kingdom also said a committee would be formed to restructure its intelligence agency under the supervision of Prince Mohammed to modernize its regulations and define its powers precisely.
Saudi Arabia said it is taking the necessary measures to clarify the circumstances in the case of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi and that all those involved will be brought to justice.
White House Response
The White House did make an official statement on Friday night, saying it was “saddened” by the Saudi admission.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders issued the following statement:
The United States acknowledges the announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that its investigation into the fate of Jamal Khashoggi is progressing and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified thus far. We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process. We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends.
Trump Reluctant to Take Stern Action
Trump on Friday called the arrests a ‘good first step’ but he also mentioned that he would be reluctant to undo arms deals with the kingdom if the U.S. were to slap Saudi Arabia with sanctions over Khashoggi’s death.
Vice President Mike Pence said that the U.S. will not “solely rely” on information provided by Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally in the Middle East.
In a Twitter message, the president clarified about a recent meeting of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Saudi officials.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was never given or shown a Transcript or Video of the Saudi Consulate event. FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2018
The president previously expressed the same sentiment last week, telling reporters, ‘I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s being poured into our country.’
Khashoggi had entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Turkey on October 2 but was not found later.