22:54 GMT +318 December 2018
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    A Saudi official opens the door of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul during a demonstration for missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Death of Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul: Facts and Reactions

    © AFP 2018 / OZAN KOSE
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Saudi Arabia admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi had died in a fistfight inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after two weeks of denials it was involved in his disappearance.

    Investigation

    Saudi Arabia's announcement comes as a response to the global outrage at Khashoggi's disappearance. The journalist, who worked for the Washington Post and has been critical of the Saudi authorities, has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi officials previously denied any knowledge of his whereabouts and claimed the journalist had left the consulate alive.

    However, amid the rising international pressure, Turkey and Saudi Arabia conducted a joint search of the Saudi consulate. Turkish police also searched a forest outside Istanbul and a city near the Sea of Marmara for the remains of the journalist. Riyadh also gave Turkey a permission to conduct searches at the residence of the Saudi consul general after the diplomat left Turkey on Tuesday.

    Prior to the Saudi announcement of Khashoggi's death, media outlets reported citing sources that the journalist might have been murdered inside the consulate. The Washington Post newspaper reported on October 12 that the Turkish government had informed US officials about audio and video recordings suggesting that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi after he entered the consulate, then murdered him and dismembered his body.

    READ MORE: Jamal Khashoggi's Secret Interview Released as His Death Confirmed

    According to the Turkish Sabah newspaper, at least part of the evidence came from an audio recording made from Khashoggi's Apple Watch. The watch allegedly sent the data to the iPhone the journalist left with his fiancee, who waited for him outside the consulate.

    On October 18, US President Donald Trump said that "it certainly looks" that the Saudi journalist was dead. He also warned that if Saudi Arabia was found to be behind the incident, the consequences for the kingdom could be "very severe."

    Saudi Explanation

    The Saudi authorities admitted on Friday that Khashoggi was dead. They said 18 Saudi nationals had been detained, and intelligence chief Ahmad Assiri and senior aide to the Saudi crown prince Saud al-Qahtani had been sacked over the incident.

    "King Salman directs formation of the ministerial committee to restructure the presidency of the general intelligence," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

    International Reaction

    Trump said he found Saudi Arabia's explanation "credible" and described it as an important first step. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Washington acknowledged Saudi Arabia taking action against suspects allegedly involved in the death of the journalist.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern over the Saudi confirmation of Khashoggi's death and called for the transparent investigation into the case.

    The UK Foreign Office said it was mulling a response to the death of the journalist, stressing that those responsible must be held accountable. Similarly, Finland's Foreign Ministry said in a Twitter statement on Saturday that Khashoggi's death must be made subject to a transparent investigation.

    READ MORE: Trump: Khashoggi Death Unacceptable, But Saudis Needed as Counterbalance to Iran

    The Amnesty International human rights organization called for a "neutral and independent" UN-led investigation into the killing of Khashoggi, while the Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiers, or RSF) non-governmental organization said it had expected "a determined, constant and powerful pressure to be kept on Saudi Arabia in order to get the whole truth on the case."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned the murder of Khashoggi and demanded punishment for those responsible.

    "We condemn this act in the strongest terms. We expect transparency from Saudi Arabia with regard to the circumstances and background of his death. Those responsible must be brought to justice," they said in a joint statement shared by the Federal Foreign Office.

    READ MORE: UAE Warns Against "Destabilizing" Saudi Arabia Over Khashoggi Case

    Meanwhile, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates both sided with Saudi Arabia on Saturday, praising its "great efforts" in probing the killing of Khashoggi.

    A spokesman for Turkey's ruling AKP party Omer Celik said on Saturday that Ankara would uncover all details of the killing "whatever happened."

    Related:

    Khashoggi Case Will Reach Court When All Requirements Are Met - Saudi Minister
    Australia Refuses to Partake in Riyadh Forum After Khashoggi Death Confirmation
    Jamal Khashoggi's Secret Interview Released as His Death Confirmed
    Germany, France Demand Explanation From Saudi Arabia Over Khashoggi's Death
    Tags:
    death, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Jamal Khashoggi, Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Donald Trump, Turkey, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia
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