CNN: Saudis To Admit Journalist Is Dead, But That His Death Was Unintentional

Screengrab/Al Jazeera English/YouTube

After previously saying Jamal Khashoggi left the consulate alive, Saudi officials reportedly will admit he is dead.

The government of Saudi Arabia is putting together a report that will acknowledge the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, claiming he was killed unintentionally during an interrogation that went wrong, two sources told CNN.

> One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.

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> One of the sources acknowledged that the report is still being prepared and cautioned that things could change.

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> The Washington Post columnist was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2. Previously, Saudi authorities had maintained Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but provided no evidence to support the claim.

Turkish officials have said there is no security footage showing Khashoggi leaving the consulate, and his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said he never came back out of the building.

> On Friday, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that shows journalist Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

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> Turkish authorities have privately said they believed 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected to Khashoggi's disappearance and possible murder. At least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Saudi government.

One member of the group, Salah Muhammed al-Tubaiqi, is listed on an official Saudi website as head of the forensic medicine department at the interior ministry and could make the new explanation less tenable.

> If the autopsy specialist left Saudi Arabia for Istanbul before Khashoggi entered the consulate, as Turkish sources have asserted, it might be hard to square with the explanation that any killing was the result of a botched interrogation, and not premeditated.

President Donald Trump offered a similar explanation earlier on Monday, saying after speaking with Saudi Arabia's King Salman about the issue that it might have been “rogue killers”.

> Even if the Trump administration accepts the new Saudi explanation, members of Congress might not. Democratic lawmakers criticized the President for his comments after the call with King Salman.

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> "Been hearing the ridiculous 'rogue killers' theory was where the Saudis would go with this," Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said on Twitter. "Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the President of the United States as their PR agent to float it," he added.

More here.

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