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 his dead body location.
The announcement, which came in a tweet from the Saudi foreign ministry, said that an initial investigation by the government’s general prosecutor found that Khashoggi been in discussions with people inside the consulate when a quarrel broke out, escalating to a fatal fist fight.
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) October 19, 2018
Saudi Attorney-General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said Khashoggi died after “discussions” at the consulate devolved into an altercation.
“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.”
The Saudi government said it also had fired five top officials as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.
Khashoggi disappeared after going to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul at about 1:15 p.m. on 2 October, to pick up paperwork that would allow him to marry his fiancée Hatice Cengiz.
According to Saudi state media, citing official sources, the public prosecutor’s office investigated a number of suspects based on the information they received from Turkish authorities. Preliminary investigations showed a suspect went to Istanbul to meet with Khashoggi with the possible intention of bringing the journalist to the Kingdom.
The statement is the first official confirmation of Khashoggi’s death in Turkey 18 days ago, and the first acknowledgment by Saudi Arabia of its role in it.