In a stunning confession, the Saudi government has for the first time confirmed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was indeed killed after a fight inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
According to a report by the country’s state TV, the country’s deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, were dismissed over the affair.
This is a significant U-turn by the Saudi government, which has been denying the reports of the dissident journalist’s murder inside its consulate in Istanbul. The country has always maintained that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive after his meeting with the officials.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump, who had threatened of punitive action against Saudis over the journalist’s death, has now said that what happened was ‘unacceptable’ but Saudi Arabia was a ‘great ally,’ reported BBC.
An official statement by the Saudi government said that King Salman had also ordered creation of a commission to review and ‘modernize’ the Kingdom’s intelligence operations and report back within a month.
According to a list confirmed by Turkish officials, 15 Saudis flew to Istanbul on the morning of 2 October, participated in an operation that left Khashoggi dead and then quickly departed the country, reported news agency Reuters. At least 12 members of that team are connected to Saudi security services and several have links to Mohammed himself, according to a review of passport records, social media, local press reports and other material.
In a significant development, the UK, France and Germany on Sunday had demanded that Saudi Arabia provide ‘complete and detailed response’ on disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had gone missing on 2 October after he entered the consulate premises.
The CCTV footage had shown him enter the premises, but there was no trace of him since then. A known critics of the Saudi regime, Khashoggi had attended a conference in London and given interviews to BBC days before his murder.