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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."