World Reacts With Skepticism To Saudi Confirmation Of Jamal Khashoggi's Death

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi poses at an event in Istanbul, Turkey in a photo dated May 6, 2018. Saudi state media confirmed Khashoggi's death, but details remain fuzzy.
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi poses at an event in Istanbul, Turkey in a photo dated May 6, 2018. Saudi state media confirmed Khashoggi's death, but details remain fuzzy.
Omar Shagaleh/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Lawmakers and world leaders reacted with skepticism following the Saudi government's confirmation Friday evening (ET) of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death.

According to the Saudi statement, "discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him during his attendance in the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul led to a quarrel and a brawl with the citizen/Jamal Khashoggi, resulted in his death." Eighteen Saudi nationals have been arrested as the investigation continues.

The Saudi government's version of Khashoggi's death has shifted since his disappearance on Oct. 2. Saudi state media initially claimed that Khashoggi left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul alive, while Turkish officials claimed early on that Khashoggi had been killed.

At a defense event on Friday evening, President Trump told reporters he found the Saudi statement credible and called the arrests "a big first step," Reuters reports.

The White House released a statement following the Saudi confirmation, which read:

Prior to the Saudi state media's confirmation, President Trump told reporters in Arizona that he would "very much have Congress involved in determining what to do" in response to Khashoggi's death. When asked if sanctions on Saudi Arabia are possible, Trump said they "could be, could be."

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted on Friday afternoon, "To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement."

In a statement, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said:

"As a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, I am seeking a classified briefing and depending on the facts of this case, we may need to re-assess our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including planned arms sales, our ongoing support for the war in Yemen, and other aspects of our partnership with the Kingdom."

Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor at the Washington Post and Khashoggi's editor, tweeted after the Saudi statement:

Bloomberg reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn't accept the Saudi explanation. At a political convention in Germany on Saturday, she said of the facts of the case, "They still haven't been cleared up and of course we demand that they be cleared up."

After talks in Copenhagen, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said, "We haven't been told the full truth, and we must insist on getting that," Bloomberg reports. According to Reuters, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had questions too: "A lot still remains uncertain," he told reporters. "What happened? How did he die? Who is responsible?"

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged a "prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation" into Khashoggi's death.

Following the Saudi statement, Australian officials announced their withdrawal from an international investment summit planned in Riyadh. Several other international officials have already withdrawn from the conference.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit