Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday that a “tremendous mistake” was made when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and pushed back against the idea that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was linked to the journalist’s death.
Adel al-Jubeir told US Fox News host Brett Baier that Khashoggi was killed in a “criminal” act committed by individuals operating “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. That is unacceptable in any government,” he said. He characterized the killing as an “aberration” that did not fit with the behavior of the Saudi regime.
Khashoggi disappeared Oct. 2 after entering the consulate to obtain documents in preparation for his marriage. Video footage showed Khashoggi entering, but no video ever showed him leaving.
For more than two weeks, Saudi officials denied any knowledge of the journalist’s fate.
The foreign minister said Sunday that Saudi security forces originally filed a report that said Khashoggi left the consulate alive. King Salman ordered an investigation when Turkish reports emerged saying Khashoggi never left the compound, contradicting the story from Saudi security.
The regime said 18 people had been arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s death. Al-Jubeir said those arrests were the “first step in a long journey.” He promised a long and thorough investigation would continue.
“We are determined to uncover every stone. We are determined to uncover all the facts and we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder,” he said. He added that Saudi Arabia will enforce “checks and balances” on the nation’s intelligence services to “ensure that something like this can never happen again.”