Saudi Arabia has admitted dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died shortly after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and claimed that he was killed in a “fist-fight”.

Iran PressMiddle East: Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that preliminary results of investigations showed Jamal Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a fight with people he met there, state media reported.

"The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding Royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri have been sacked from their positions, Reuters reported.

Ahmad al-Assiri served as an adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who promoted him to his intelligence position last year, and is considered to be one of his closest aides.

 The prominent Saudi journalist was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Saudi Attorney-General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said, "Discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him … at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace."

"The investigations are still under way and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," the attorney-general said in a statement.

Royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri were fired from their positions, the statement said.

It remains unclear where Khashoggi's body is following his killing.

A follow-up statement, released by the Saudi Arabian ministry of foreign affairs, claimed that discussions between Khashoggi and Saudi officials at the consulate “did not go as required and escalated negatively which led to a fight between them … and led to his death”. It also claimed that officials, referred to as “suspects”, were involved in a “cover-up”.


Trump: Saudi explanation is 'credible'

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that Saudi Arabia's explanation for how journalist Jamal Khashoggi died at its consulate in Istanbul was credible.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said Saudi Arabia's announcement on the circumstances of Khashoggi's death was a "good first step." He also said he prefers that any sanctions against Riyadh not include canceling big defense orders. 

Republican and Democrat lawmakers have called on the US to halt sales of arms to Saudi Arabia and to conduct an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s death saying that any investigation by the Saudis could not be trusted.

US Senator Rand Paul has called for all military sales and aid to Saudi Arabia to be halted immediately.

Republican senator Bob Corker from Tennessee has called for the US to conduct its own investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Some US lawmakers have been calling on the government to punish Saudis involved in Khashoggi’s death using the Magnitsky Act.


UN chief: 'deeply troubled' by the confirmation of Khashoggi’s death

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also reacted to the Saudi announcement, saying he was "deeply troubled" by the confirmation of Khashoggi’s death, a UN spokesman said.

The spokesman also said Guterres “stresses need for prompt, thorough, transparent investigation” into circumstances, and full accountability for those responsible.”

Activists protest the disappearance of Khashoggi during demonstration outside the White House 

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry.


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Activists protest the disappearance of Khashoggi during demonstration outside the White House