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Fight at the consulate led to the death of the journalist, Saudis Say



The Saudi Arabian government admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in his consulate in Istanbul and said he had died after a "brawl and fistfight"

In a statement by Saudi state television on early Saturday Eighteen Saudi citizens have been detained until the final results of a continuing investigation into the death of Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and government critic.

"Discussions between citizen Jamal Khashoggi and those who met him while he was in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul resulted in a brawl and a fist fight that led to his death," the statement said, citing the provisional ones Results of the investigation.

Mr. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd. He was accompanied by his fiancé Hatice Cengiz to the entrance, which was the first alarm.

  Saudi General Ahmed al-Assiri was relieved of his duties, according to the preliminary findings of the Kingdom's investigation into the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi General Ahmed al-Assiri was relieved of his duties, according to the preliminary findings of the Kingdom's investigation into the death of Jamal Khashoggi.


fayez nureldine / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

King Salman, the Saudi monarch, announced on a royal commission of state media that two high-ranking government officials – both close collaborators of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – were released from their posts. It's Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, Deputy Chief of the Saudi Intelligence Service, and Saud al-Qahtani, who was responsible for media affairs at the royal court.

King Salman also ordered the formation of a new committee responsible for overhauling the intelligence service of the country headed by Prince Mohammed. This was a clear indication that the Crown Prince would have no immediate impact on the death of Mr. Khashoggi.

gene. Assiri was directly involved in the operation aimed at Mr. Khashoggi, according to the persons familiar with the matter. Three other senior intelligence officers were also fired.

It is not known what role, if any, Mr. Qahtani had in the incident. As a media consultant, Mr. Qahtani had stepped up control of the domestic press and stepped up efforts to intimidate and silence government critics.

The announcement came a few hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman had exchanged information about their own investigation into the Khashoggi case in a telephone conversation, reports Turkish state news agency Anadolu. It was the second time that the two men were discussing the case on the phone, after a previous conversation on October 14.

The Saudi government initially denied any role in the journalist's disappearance, saying that shortly after Khashoggi left the consulate, he collected documents related to his divorce. Later, however, a separate internal inquiry into the incident was launched to determine who, if any, should be held accountable.

The secrets surrounding Mr. Khashoggi's fate have been scrutinized by the Saudi monarchy, and for years have triggered the kingdom's most acute diplomatic crisis. Saudi Arabia's main ally, the US, was forced to intervene to address the situation. President Trump swore "hard punishment" if the US came to the conclusion that the Saudi government was involved in the alleged murder of the journalist.

During a trip to Riyadh this week, Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo urged Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed for answers and agreed to provide Riyadh for a few more days to complete his investigation into what happened to Mr. Khashoggi.

Since the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, Turkish authorities have published evidence implicating Saudi officials. They say that Mr. Khashoggi was drugged, killed, and dismembered in the Saudi consulate by a group of agents sent from Riyadh and affiliated with the security establishment.

Write to Margherita Stancati at margherita.stancati@wsj.com

Published in the printed edition of October 20, 2018 as "Saudis who died at the consulate to death".


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