Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi died after a brawl inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia announced Saturday.
Preliminary investigations by the Public Prosecution Office into Khashoggi’s disappearance revealed he had gotten into a “quarrel and brawl” with people he met while in the consulate which led to his death, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said in a statement.
SPA also reported that 18 Saudi citizens have been arrested over links to Khashoggi’s death. Those having such links will be held accountable and brought to justice, it said.
Khashoggi’s disappearance “drew the attention of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the highest levels, and due to the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, the Kingdom took the necessary procedures to clarify the truth and began by dispatching a security team to Turkey on 6 October 2018 to investigate and cooperate with counterparts in Turkey," SPA said.
According to the official news agency, discussions between Khashoggi and the suspects in the Saudi consulate "did not go as required and developed in a negative way," which led to the brawl.
"Yet the brawl aggravated to lead to his death” and the suspects’ attempt to “conceal and cover what happened," SPA reported.
Saudi Arabia said information provided by Turkey helped the Kingdom reveal the truth about Khashoggi’s murder.
According to SPA, Riyadh appreciated the distinguished cooperation of Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the probe into the Khashoggi case.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, had gone missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
On the day of his disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while Khashoggi was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
On Wednesday, crime scene investigation units arrived at the official residence of Saudi Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi around 4.40 p.m. local time (1340GMT). Al-Otaibi had left Turkey for Riyadh on Tuesday.
Officials from a joint Turkish-Saudi team completed an investigation into the case early Thursday after searching the residence as well as the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.