Saudi cleric slams ‘fabrications’ over missing journalist

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His disappearance had been shrouded in mystery and triggered an worldwide crisis, with Turkish officials accusing Saudi Arabia of a state-sponsored killing and dismembering his body.

Saudi authorities said 18 Saudi suspects were in custody for his slaying and intelligence officials had been fired.

More than two weeks after Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia said late Friday that the journalist was killed in an altercation in the diplomatic facility.

The Saudi government said it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation.

Trump also called Saudi Arabia a "great ally".

The overnight announcement in Saudi State media also said a royal court adviser close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was sacked along with three leaders in the kingdom's intelligence services and other officials.

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Mr Trump said today that he wants to talk to the Saudi crown prince before next steps are taken. "I am an employee and a faithful executor of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the faithful crown prince".

The same source familiar with the investigations revealed that a Saudi consulate driver was among those who handed over the body to a "local collaborator".

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, however, rejected Saudi Arabia's account on Friday evening.

Mr Chishti told Channel 4 News: "The role that I had was with regards to an independent think tank". After the search ends, a news report emerges that contains details from a purported recording of Mr Khashoggi being tortured and then decapitated.

"We must carefully examine both the facts surrounding Khashoggi's disappearance as well as our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and I call on the President to take strong action in unwavering defence of our values".

A United States government source said USA intelligence agencies are increasingly convinced of Prince Mohammed's culpability in the operation against Khashoggi, which they believe resulted in his death.

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Shortly before Riyadh confirmed that Khashoggi had been killed, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman agreed in telephone talks to continue cooperation in the investigation into the Khashoggi affair.

In its official acknowledgement of Khashoggi's murder on on October 4, the Saudi government said the WaPo columnist was put into a choke hold that led to his death. "If (the Trump) administration doesn't lead, Congress must", Congressman Adam Schiff said.

"Discussions took place with the citizen Jamal Khashoggi during his presence in the consulate of the kingdom in Istanbul by the suspects (that) did not go as required and developed in a negative way, leading to a fistfight". "We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr Khashoggi's death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée and friends", Sarah Sanders, press secretary of the White House said in a tweet.

Even the Saudi version of events show that Khashoggi's murder has clear links to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman through his key aides and hence the days ahead are crucial to show if Saudi Arabia embraces him and risks the coming sanctions.

USA lawmakers have called on the U.S. to halt sales of arms to Saudi Arabia and to conduct an independent investigation into Khashoggi's death, saying that any investigation by the Saudis could not be trusted.

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