RIYADH – The Saudi government confirmed early Saturday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and said he had died during a fistfight.
The announcement, which came in a tweet from the Saudi State Department, said a preliminary investigation by the government's Attorney General revealed that Khashoggi was in discussion with people at the consulate when a quarrel erupted and escalated into a fatal fistfight.
The Saudi government said they have fired five top officials and arrested another 18 Saudis as a result of the first investigation. The adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Saud al-Qahtani and Deputy Chief of Intelligence Major General Ahmed al-Assiri were fired.
The announcement marks the first time that Saudi officials have confirmed that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. Since his disappearance on October 2 during the mission visit, Saudi officials have repeatedly said that he left the consulate alive and had no information about his whereabouts or destiny. He had gone to the consulate to get a document he needed for an upcoming wedding.
Turkish investigators found days ago that Washington Post's columnist Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi team sent to Istanbul. US officials said that Turkey has audio and video recordings that provide evidence that it was interrogated, killed and then cut into pieces.
According to an official Saudi statement, King Salman also ordered the creation of a commission to review and "modernize" the Kingdom (1
These personal ties and intelligence departments of the Saudi officials, who talked about a plan to lure Khashoggi home, have contributed to the growing suspicion that the Crown Prince was personally linked to the incident. But the Saudi statement did not involve him in the murder case.
Investigations conducted by the Procuratorate revealed that the "suspects" had traveled to Istanbul to meet with Khashoggi because he had expressed an interest in returning to Saudi Arabia, the official news agency. Discussions that took place "developed in a negative way" and "led to a struggle and a quarrel between some of them and the citizen," it said. "The brawl has intensified to lead to his death and attempt to hide what happened," it said.
The investigation continues with the 18 detainees without naming them.
"The Kingdom expresses its depth, regrets the painful developments that have taken place, and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to make the facts publicly available," the statement said.
In addition to Qahtani and Assiri, the official Saudi statement cited several other senior military officers who had been fired. Among them were General Rashad bin Hamid al Mihmadi, General Abdullah bin Khalef al Shaiyi and General Mohammed bin Saleh al Rumaih.
Qahtani was one of Muhammad's closest advisers, serving as a strategist and executor. He was referred to in some quarters as the Saudi Steve Bannon and had created a "blacklist" of online critics from Saudi Arabia. Qahtani turned to Khashoggi and tried to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia this summer when US intelligence officials said there was an attempt to lure him back into the kingdom to arrest him.
"Do you think I can act on myself without taking instructions / guidance?" He said in a tweet last year, which was widely used after the announcement. "I am an employee and a trustworthy executive on the orders of the King and Crown Prince."
Assiri, who was also close to the Crown Prince, served for two years as the public face of Saudi Arabia 's military intervention in the war in Yemen before his intelligence service. Speaking fluently in French and English, Assiri regularly provided news about the state of the war, which was unusual for the Middle East and served to promote the professionalism of the Saudi war effort. This statement acknowledges the Saudi announcement that the investigation is progressing and that it is targeting suspects. Englisch: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…80&Itemid=58 […] was proceeded.
"We will continue to closely follow the international investigation into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in line with everything in order." We are saddened to hear the affirmation of Mr. Khashoggi's death and we speak to him Our deepest condolences to family, fiancee and friends, "Sanders said.
Other response in Washington was more negative.
"To say that I'm skeptical of the new Saudi tale about Mr. Khashoggi, is an understatement," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., in a Twitter post. "First, we were told that Mr. Khashoggi allegedly left the consulate and completely denied any involvement from Saudi Arabia, and now a fight breaks out and he is killed at the consulate without his knowing Crown Prince."
Earlier Friday, Turkish respondents interviewed Prosecutors Employees of the Saudi Consulate, State Media Said, Suggesting Attempts to Reinvigorate a Possible Criminal Case with Insiders Details of recent journalist Jamal Khashoggi were seen living.
An intelligence-free staff in Istanbul was interviewed by prosecutors, the semi-official news agency Anadolu reported one day after the Turkish authorities had combed in an apparent search through wooded areas outside Istanbul
Turkish officials say that Khashoggi – a US citizen – was killed by a 15-strong Saudi inmate after he joined the consulate on October 2.
The renewed focus on consular employees suggests that the investigators are trying to bolster a possible criminal case. Turkish officials say they also have a tape recording Khashoggi's killing, but the tape was not shared with American or Saudi officials.
The disappearance of Khashoggi provoked worldwide criticism of the Crown Prince, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, and shook the kingdom as it sought to respond to mounting international pressure to explain the fate of the journalist.
Turkish media reported that more than a dozen Turkish Consulate employees – including technicians, drivers, telephone operators and accountants – were present interviewed by prosecutors.
Their reports could provide valuable insights into the movements of Saudi officials at the mission in the hours and days before and after the disappearance of Khashoggi.
It was not clear why the investigators waited more than two weeks to conduct the interviews, but the move came one day after Turkish officials said they were looking for possible remains in two wooded areas near Istanbul  The investigation focused on the consulate in Istanbul's Levent district and on the nearby residence of Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi, who had left Turkey this week.
Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country had not provided the sound recordings of Khashoggi's alleged murder of US officials, but promised that Turkey would "share the results of its investigation with the world," according to Anadolu.  On Thursday, President Donald Trump said Khashoggi was probably dead and warned against "very serious" measures against Saudi Arabia if they were found responsible.