Jamal Khashoggi was murdered when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Photo: AFP
Saudi hackers using Pegasus software targeted friends and family of Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Photo: AFP

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister claimed on Sunday that the kingdom did not know where the body of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was, despite having admitted the crime took place and describing it as a “tremendous mistake,” AFP reported.

Adel al-Jubeir told America’s Fox News that the Saudi leadership initially believed Khashoggi had left the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, where he was last seen on October 2.

However, “reports we were getting from Turkey” prompted the Saudi authorities to launch an investigation, which found that “he was killed in the consulate.”

“We don’t know, in terms of details, how. We don’t know where the body is,” Jubeir said, adding that 18 individuals had been ordered detained by the Saudi public prosecutor, “the first step in a long journey.”

The minister called the killing a “tremendous mistake” but one he believed the US-Saudi relationship would eventually overcome.

“The individuals who did this did this 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,” Jubeir said.

“That is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen. We want to make sure that those who are responsible are punished, and we want to make sure we have procedures in place to prevent it from happening again.”

However, Jubeir insisted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not order the killing, despite reports linking some suspects to members of the de facto ruler’s security detail.

“This was an operation that was a rogue operation, this was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding their authorities and responsibilities they had; they made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it,” he said.

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