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Jamal Khashoggi: A mysterious disappearance and death

October 23, 2018

Official Saudi statements on the fate of the journalist have changed several times since he went missing from the Istanbul consulate on October 2. DW traces the events since the Saudi critic's disappearance.

Istanbul Saudischer Journalist Khashoggi betritt Konsulat von Saudi-Arabien
Image: Reuters TV

Jamal Kashoggi vanishes

Prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was last seen on October 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to obtain an official document for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. He never emerged from the consulate, prompting Cengiz, who waited outside, to raise the alarm.

Turkish and Saudi officials came up with conflicting reports on Khashoggi's whereabouts. Riyadh said the journalist had left the mission shortly after his work was done. But Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the journalist was still in the consulate.

Murder claims

On October 4, Turkish officials said they believed the journalist was likely killed inside the Saudi consulate. The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi wrote, citing unnamed sources, reported that Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team "came from Saudi Arabia" to kill the man.

Ankara demands proof

On October 8, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Saudi Arabia to prove that Khashoggi left its consulate in Istanbul. Turkey also sought permission to search the mission premises. US President Donald Trump voiced concern about the journalist's disappearance.

Riyadh allows Turkish investigators

Saudi Arabia agreed on October 9 to let Turkish officials search its consulate. Security camera footage released by local media showed a van entering the consulate on October 2, before going to the nearby consul's residence, further fanning conspiracy theories.

Protesters in Istanbul after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi was a high-profile critic of his country Image: AFP/Getty Images/O. Kose

"Davos in the Desert" hit

On October 12, British billionaire Richard Branson halted talks over a $1 billion (€870,000) Saudi investment in his Virgin group's space ventures, citing Khashoggi's case. He also pulled out of an investment conference in Riyadh dubbed the "Davos in the Desert." His move was followed by International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagrade, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Siemens's Joe Kaeserand a host of other business leaders. The conference opened on October 23.

Search operation

On October 15, Turkish investigators searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The search lasted more than eight hours and investigators removed samples from the building, including soil from the consulate garden and a metal door, one official said.

Death reportedly after fistfight

October 19, Saudi Arabia said preliminary investigations showed that Khashoggi died after an "altercation" and "fistfight at the consulate." Turkey's ruling party has responded, saying Ankara will "never allow a cover-up" of the killing of the Saudi journalist. German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed Riyadh's explanation as "insufficient."

'Grave mistake'

October 21, Saudi Arabia admitted the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a "rogue operation," calling it a "huge and grave mistake," but insisted that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had not been aware of the murder. Riyadh said it had no idea where Khashoggi's body was.

Germany halts arms sales

October 21, German Chancellor Merkel said Germany would put arms exports to Saudi Arabia on hold for the time being, given the unexplained circumstances of Khashoggi's death. Germany is the fourth largest exporter of weapons to Saudi Arabia after the United States, Britain and France.

Turkey says murder was planned

October 23, Turkish President Erdogan said there were strong signs that the murder of Khashoggi had been planned days in advance.      

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Portrait photo of Ashutosh Pandey wearing a blue collared shirt and a navy-blue blazer
Ashutosh Pandey Business editor with a focus on international trade, financial markets and the energy sector.@ashutoshpande85
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