Riyadh: After about two weeks of wild speculations, Saudi Arabia on Friday finally confirmed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, adding that the Kingdom has arrested 18 people, all Saudi citizens, and is investigating the matter with them.
Saudi Arabia said that Khashoggi died in a fistfight after a brawl between him and "some of those who were present with him inside the consulate" and wanted him to return to the Kingdom.
“The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,” the Saudi Press Agency said in a statement, citing the public prosecutor.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who lived in self-exile in the US, disappeared on October 2, 2018 after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to complete paperwork related to his divorce. A team of Saudi investigators were sent to Istanbul and have been working on the case with Turkish detectives, who entered the consulate on Thursday.
The statement also said that the Saudi Royal Court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed all-Assiri have been sacked from their positions. It said Saudi Arabia's King Salman has ordered the restructuring of the command of the general intelligence agency under the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi Press Agency added the order also included updating regulations, determining the agency's powers, and evaluating its methods and procedures.
It said the King ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, headed by the crown prince, to oversee the restructure. It will include the interior minister, the foreign minister, the head of the intelligence agency and the chief of homeland security. The committee, according to the King's order, should report to the King within a month.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said he agreed that Saudi explanation and investigation into what had happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was credible. At the same time, he stressed that it was too early to talk about any conclusions.
"It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation but it’s a very important first step and it happened sooner that people thought it would happen,” he said.
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