S Arabia admits Jamal Khashoggi killed in Istanbul consulate

TEHRAN, Oct. 20 (MNA) – Saudi Arabia admitted journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul, saying he died in brawl but made no mention of where his body is.

Kingdom sacked intelligence official and arrested 18 Saudis saying missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a 'fist fight'.

"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 said in a statement.

"The investigations are still under way and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested."

Royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri were fired from their positions, the statement said.

It remains unclear where Khashoggi's body is following his killing.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who wrote critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's (MBS) rise to power, went missing on October 2 after entering the consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage.

Following the statement by Saudi prosecutor general, US President Donald Trump, describing the circumstances around Jamal Khashoggi’s death in the Saudi Consulate General as “unacceptable,” told reporters that the matter should be handled with care because Riyadh was a crucial ally "against Iran" and billions of dollars in arms sales were at stake.

“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally but what happened is unacceptable. I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanction, or what we may determine to do if anything. But I would prefer that we don’t use as retribution, canceling the $110 billion-worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs,” he said.

Politicians in the US have reacted in disbelief at claims in Saudi Arabia's state media that Khashoggi died following a "fist fight".

"To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr Khashoggi is an understatement," prominent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter, adding it was "hard to find this latest 'explanation' as credible".

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said he is personally "chasing" the investigation into prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkish media also responded to the statement saying that Saudi Arabia's official narrative about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi did not match the information leaked by Turkish investigation team.

In a statement released on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that he is “deeply troubled” by the reported confirmation of the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General also announced on Friday that the Secretary-General is deeply troubled by the confirmation of the death of Jamal Khashoggi. He extends his condolences to Mr. Khashoggi’s family and friends. The Secretary-General stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death and full accountability for those responsible.

Amnesty International also said the "impartiality" of a Saudi investigation into the killing of Khashoggi would remain in question. Amnesty's Rawya Rageh said early on Saturday that the rights group and other organisations have been very clear that what is needed is "an impartial and independent investigation by the UN to find out what happened and ensure justice" for Khashoggi.

She said rights groups have been concerned of a "whitewash" in the investigation.

LR

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