Saudi Arabia has admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this month. The Kingdom had up until now denied any role in the death.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He went there to obtain paperwork which would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée and had not been seen since.
Turkish authorities said Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside of the Saudi consulate. Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the Saudi Royal Family. He was a Saudi citizen and a resident of the United States. He contributed to The Washington Post.
The admission by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was a reversal from previous statements made by the Kingdom. Al-Jubeir called Khashoggi’s death a mistake.
“The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority,” he said. “There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable in any government.”
Jubeir called Khashoggi’s death a “murder” and said an investigation was currently underway to hold those responsible accountable.
“We are determined to uncover every stone. We are determined to find out all the facts. And we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder,” he said.
Khashoggi’s disappearance became an international incident with governments all over the world calling on the Saudis to explain any role they may have played. U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Saudi Arabia’s handling of the situation, calling that government’s explanations “all over the place.”
He however declined to break with the longtime U.S. ally and offered words of praise to the country’s de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a “strong person” with “very good control.”
Jubeir denied that the Crown Prince had any knowledge of the operation before it took place. “Even the senior leadership of our intelligence service was not aware” of what Jubeir called a rogue operation.
“These things take time,” Jubeir said of the investigation, cautioning against jumping to conclusions. To Khashoggi’s family, Jubeir offered condolences.
“We feel their pain. And I wish this didn’t happen and I wish that this could’ve been avoided. Unfortunately, a huge and grave mistake was made. And I assure them, that those responsible will be held accountable for this,” he said.
Photo by Saudi Arabian Government via Flickr