The official SPA press agency said on Saturday that preliminary results of investigations showed that the dissident writer died after a fight broke out inside the building.
“An argument erupted between him [Khashoggi] and others whom he met in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul leading to a fistfight which led to his death,” SPA reported.
“The investigations are still under way 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.
It remains unclear where Khashoggi’s body is following his killing.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who wrote critically of Mohammed bin Salman‘s rise to power, went missing on October 2 after entering the consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage.
His whereabouts had remained unknown since.
Saudi officials had previously denied the writer and critic had been killed inside the diplomatic facility, insisting Khashoggi had left the building before vanishing.
Turkish media reports had previously suggested that Khashoggi was killed by a 15-person “assassination team” who flew in on two chartered planes to interrogate, torture and kill him.
Over the past two weeks, Turkish intelligence had also disclosed a steady stream of leaks to the media, saying it had audio recordings that proved Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate building.
On Wednesday, the Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, citing what it described as an audio recording of the journalist’s killing, said the 15-member squad immediately accosted Khashoggi after he entered the consulate, cutting off his fingers and later decapitating him.
Intelligence agency restructuring
SPA also reported on Saturday that Saudi Arabia expressed its regret for Khashoggi’s death and
praised the Turkish government’s cooperation.
It also reported that Saudi King Salman had ordered the restructuring of the command of the general intelligence agency under the supervision of Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.
The order also included updating regulations, determining the agency’s powers and evaluating its methods and procedures.
It said the king ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, headed by the crown prince, to oversee the restructure. It will include the interior minister, the foreign minister, the head of the intelligence agency and the chief of homeland security.
Al Jazeera and news agencies