Washington- Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said Sunday the kingdom did not know where the body of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi was, despite admitting to the killing and calling it a “tremendous mistake”.
The comments from Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir were some of the most direct yet from Riyadh, which has given multiple and conflicting accounts about Khashoggi’s killing on Oct. 2, first denying his death and later admitting it amid an international outcry.
Speaking in an interview on Fox News, Al Jubeir said the Saudi leadership initially believed Khashoggi had left its consulate in Istanbul, where he was last seen on October 2.
But following “reports we were getting from Turkey,” Saudi authorities began an investigation, which discovered he was killed in the diplomatic mission.
“We don’t know, in terms of details, how. We don’t know where the body is,” Al Jubeir said, adding that the Saudi public prosecutor had put out orders to detain 18 individuals, “the first step in a long journey”.
According to the senior Saudi official, the Saudi team rolled up Khashoggi’s body in a rug, took it out in a consular vehicle and handed it to a “local cooperator” for disposal.
He termed the killing a “tremendous mistake” but one which the US-Saudi relationship would eventually overcome.
“This was an operation that was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had,” Jubeir said on the U.S. broadcaster Fox.
“The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up,” Al Jubeir told Fox News.
“That is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen. We want to make sure that those who are responsible are punished and we want to make sure we have procedures in place to prevent it from happening again.”
King calls Khashoggi’s son
Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman called Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s son, Salah, to express their condolences, the Saudi Press Agency said late on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia has said that Khashoggi, a prominent journalist, died in a fight inside its Istanbul consulate – after two weeks.
Saudi official: chokehold killed Khashoggi, body carried out in a rug
Jubeir had extended condolences to Khashoggi’s family earlier on Sunday. “Unfortunately, a huge and grave mistake was made and I assure them that those responsible will be held accountable for this,” he told Fox.
Erdogan to speak
Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate by the Saudi agents and his body cut up. Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder.
In a speech on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to suggest he was getting ready to release some information about the Turkish investigation, and would do so at his weekly speech on Tuesday to members of his ruling AK Party.
Erdogan has remained largely silent on the case, although Turkey’s pro-government newspapers have released information about events at the consulate.
Turkey’s Anadolu agency said early on Monday that Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump had spoken on the telephone and agreed that “all aspects” of the case needed to be cleared up.
King Salman ordered the dismissal of five officials, including Saud Al Qahtani, a royal court adviser, and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri, Saudi state media reported on Saturday.
The king also ordered a restructuring of the intelligence service, to be led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, suggesting the prince still retained wide-ranging authority.
Source: Gulf News