Saudi Arabia admits journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, says it was after a 'fight'

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A man holds a poster of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest organized by members of the Turkish-Arabic Media Association at the entrance to Saudi Arabia's consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, Saudi Arabia's general prosecutor said early Saturday morning local time.

The government said that Khashoggi got into a fight with the people he met at the consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The kingdom alleged that Khashoggi died in that clash.

That explanation counters multiple reports of how Khashoggi died. Turkish officials told The New York Times that it has audio evidence which proves Khashoggi was tortured, killed and subsequently dismembered by a hit team of Saudi agents.

It also contradicts the Saudi government's earlier account of events. Officials previously told reporters that the dissident journalist left the consulate shortly after he arrived.

Through its state press, the kingdom said it has detained 18 Saudi nationals after preliminary investigations linked them to the case.

The announcement comes more than two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen in public, entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was a frequent critic of Saudi Arabia's royal family and wrote columns for The Washington Post.

Earlier this week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the kingdom was conducting a "thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers."

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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