Saudi Arabia’s state media has confirmed the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on Friday.
Around 18 suspects have been detained by the Saudis and a top general was dismissed, according to Saudi media reports cited by CNN.
A close aide to the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was also reportedly dismissed.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who was also a legal US resident with a green card, had been living in Virginia. He was last seen walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2.
Saudi Arabia previously denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and claimed he left the consulate on the same afternoon of his visit.
After his disappearance, Turkish authorities alleged that Khashoggi was brutally murdered, citing an acquired audio recording as evidence. US and Saudi Arabia were also privy to details of the recording, which reportedly indicated Khashoggi was drugged, beaten, and dismembered, according to officials cited in Turkish media reports.
Khashhoggi’s disappearance created a flurry of criticism against Saudi Arabia and the crown prince, who was seen by some as a populist reformer. Khashoggi, who resided in Virginia, was an outspoken critic of his country and the prince, and reportedly feared for his safety before his disappearance.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia this week and said he had “candid conversations” with the Saudi leadership. According to Pompeo, the Saudis “strongly denied” having prior knowledge of whatever took place in the consulate and pledged to conduct a “thorough, transparent, and timely investigation.”
President Donald Trump acknowledged on Thursday that based on the available intelligence, Khashoggi was likely dead.
“Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he’s dead,” Trump said to The New York Times. “That’s based on everything — intelligence coming from every side.”
Trump, who has been under scrutiny for his financial ties to the kingdom, said there would be “very severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia was discovered to be responsible.
“I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement,” Trump said. “But we’re waiting for the results of about — there are three different investigations, and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon.”
This is a developing story. Refresh this page for the latest version.