Saudi Arabia: Shifting narrative over Khashoggi's murder

AFP Dubai - United Arab Emirates Oct 25, 2018, 08.41 PM(IST)

Jamal Khashoggi. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Here is a summary of Riyadh's comments since the Saudi dissident and Washington Post contributor disappeared on October 2, sparking a major international crisis.

Saudi authorities first insisted the journalist Jamal Khashoggi came out of their Istanbul consulate alive. Now they say he was the victim of a premeditated murder.

Here is a summary of Riyadh's comments since the Saudi dissident and Washington Post contributor disappeared on October 2, sparking a major international crisis.

Disappeared, not inside
On October 4, after an initial period of silence, Riyadh says the journalist disappeared "after he left the consulate building".

The following day, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Bloomberg that Khashoggi is not inside the consulate.

'Baseless lies'
On October 13, Saudi Arabia's interior minister rejects accusations that Khashoggi was ordered murdered by a hit squad inside the consulate, dismissing them as "lies and baseless allegations".

Dies in a 'brawl'
Overnight from October 19-20, Saudi Arabia admits the journalist was killed inside the consulate.

"Discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him... led to a brawl and a fistfight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death," Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb says in a statement.

'Chokehold'
However, Ali Shihabi, the head of the Arabia Foundation think tank, which is said to be close to the government, contradicts the Saudi narrative. Citing a senior Saudi source, he says "Khashoggi died from a chokehold during a physical altercation, not a fist fight".

'Murder... tremendous mistake'
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir says in an interview with Fox News on October 21 that the operation was not ordered by the crown prince.

"We are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder," he says.

"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."

"We don't know, in terms of details, how," he added. "We don't know where the body is."

'Repulsive incident'
In his first public comments on the affair, more than three weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance, the crown prince on October 24 denounces the murder.

He calls it a "repulsive incident", insisting the kingdom is cooperating with Turkey and that "justice will prevail".

"Many are trying to exploit the Khashoggi affair to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey... they will not succeed," he says.

'Premeditated'
On October 25, Saudi Arabia's public prosector says the murder was "premeditated", based on information supplied by Turkey.

In a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, he says the public prosecution "continues its investigation".