Home / Observatory / News / Saudi Arabia Claim Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Was Murdered


Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and well-known critic of the Saudi government, was killed by a "rogue operation", according to the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia and his death has caused a global outcry.

Speaking to Fox News, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, said "the murder" of Khashoggi had been a "tremendous mistake" but was adamant that the powerful crown prince had not ordered it.

In describing the incident as a murder, Adel al-Jubeir's comments are some of the frankest to come from a Saudi official.

"We are determined to find out all the facts and we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder," he said.

"The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority," he added. "There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up.

"Even the senior leadership of our intelligence service was not aware of this," he said, calling it a "rogue operation" and reiterating that the action had not been ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, regarded as Saudi Arabia's most powerful figure.

The journalist, a prominent critic of the Saudi government, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 but was never seen again. Under intense pressure from various countries, the Saudis have offered contradictory reports.

They first said that Khashoggi had left the consulate, unharmed, the same day but, on Friday, two-and-a-half weeks later, they finally admitted he was dead. Their official stance was that he was killed in a fight but this has been met with broad suspicion.

Officials from Turkey, claiming they have evidence to prove it, believe Khashoggi was murdered by a team of Saudi agents inside the building.

A source close to Turkey's government, named Yeni Safak, says they have information showing that the "office of the Crown Prince had received four phone calls from the consulate after the killing."

Leaked details of the Turkish investigation so far apparently suggest that embassy official, Maher Mutreb, used his personal mobile phone to make calls, including to an American number believed to belong to, Khaled, the Crown Prince's younger brother and previous Saudi ambassador to the US.

Prince Khaled bin Salman left the US soon after Khashoggi's disappearance.

A timeline of key events

2 October

Two private jets carrying suspected Saudi agents arrive at Istanbul airport hours apart

Several diplomatic vehicles are filmed arriving at the consulate, allegedly carrying some of the Saudi agents

Khashoggi is seen entering the consulate to collect paperwork ahead of his marriage

Vehicles leave the consulate and are filmed arriving at the nearby Saudi consul's residence

Both jets leave Turkey by 21:00

3 October

The Turkish government declares Khashoggi missing and suspects he is being held in the consulate

4 October
Saudi Arabia claims he'd left the embassy on 2 October

7 October
The BBC says Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was killed at the consulate while Saudi Arabia strongly deny the claim

13 October
Confirming reports of such tapes by local media, Turkish officials, talking to BBC Arabic, say they have audio and video evidence of the killing

15 and 17-18 October
Forensic teams carry out searches of the consulate

19 October
Reports from Saudi state TV claim an initial investigation indicate Jamal Khashoggi had died in the consulate. King Salman dismisses two Saudi senior officials orders the formation of a ministerial committee to restructure the intelligence services

20 October
Turkish officials pledge to disclose all evidence relating to the killing

21 October
Speaking to Fox News, Saudi foreign minister denies the crown prince ordered the "murder" and that it was a "rogue operation"

What are they doing about it?

The Saudis allege they have arrested 18 people and dismissed two of Mohammed bin Salman aides. They also claim the King ordered a ministerial committee be created under his leadership to reform their intelligence agency.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that, on Sunday, King Salman and the Crown Prince called Khashoggi's son, Salah, to express their condolences over his death.

The Wall Street Journal said Salah Khashoggi, who resides in Saudi Arabia, was prohibited from leaving the country to visit his father who was living in self-imposed exile in the US.

Meanwhile, according to Turkish state news agency, Anadolu, Jamal Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has been given 24-hour police protection. It was she who first raised the alarm about his disappearance after waiting for him for hours outside the consulate.

Reaction to the incident has been varied. In an interview in the Washington Post on Saturday, US President Donald Trump said there had been "deception" and "lies" in Saudi Arabia's explanation but would "love" it if the crown prince was not responsible for the murder.

Although he had initially found their account to be believable, Trump raised the possibility of imposing sanctions but said halting an arms deal would "hurt us more than it would hurt them".

In a joint statement, the UK, France and Germany expressed shock at the death, demanding a full explanation, saying: "Nothing can justify this killing and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms."

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she will prevent arms exports to Saudi Arabia given "the current circumstances", while the incident has Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, threatening to cancel a multi-billion dollar defence contract with the Saudi's.

Kuwait, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have praised the way King Salman has managed the case but Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he would reveal the "naked truth" of the matter in parliament on Tuesday.

Turkish investigators say they have audio and video evidence proving Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate.

The consulate and the Saudi consul residence have both been searched while Turkish prosecutors took statements from the consulate's staff, police also explored Istanbul's Belgrad forest where they suspect his remains may have been taken. One official said he was hopeful they would find it "before long".

According to a story from Reuters news agency on Sunday, a Saudi official said that, after resisting attempts to return him to Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi had died in a chokehold and his body rolled in a rug and given to a local "co-operator" for disposal. Apparently, a Saudi operative then dressed in Khashoggi's clothes and left the consulate.

The official also said that due to "false information reported internally at the time", the Saudi statements required changes to reflect the information that has come to light.

See the video from Aljazeera below for more.

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