Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi ‘died in fight’ at consulate

Saudi Arabia confirmed late on Friday that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, Arab News said quoting official Saudi Press Agency.

He died in a fight with the people who met him in the Istanbul consulate on Oct 2, the agency said.

Over the past two weeks, Saudi consulate officials were maintaining that Khashoggi left the mission alive. However, they refused to show Turkish investigators CCTV footage of the journalist leaving the embassy on foot or in a car.

Saudi admission that Khashoggi was killed in a “brawl” was questioned by one of his US friends, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

President Trump viewed the admission as “good first step” adding that what happened is “unacceptable.”

The Saudi Press Agency said royal court adviser Saud Al-Qahtani and Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed Asiri have been sacked from their positions and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested so far.

“Investigations are still underway,” the Saudi statement said.

But Riyadh remained silent on what a top forensic expert and 14 other Saudi officials were “doing” after Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered in the consulate by the 15-member team, a claim denied by the Saudi government. Officials say they have audio and video tapes that prove that the journalist’ was brutally murdered.

The ‘assassination squad’ had arrived in two private jets from Riyadh on Oct 2 and returned the same day, according to them.

Curiously, one of them died in a “suspected car accident” in Riyadh this week sparking rumours that more such “accidents” will happen as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will try to destroy all evidence amid international pressure to explain Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In his last column for The Post published on Oct 18, Khashoggi expressed concern over Arab governments that increasingly continue to silence the media. In the end, he was silenced.