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Khashoggi had entered the consulate in order to obtain documents related to the marriage he and his fiancée were planning. Because no security camera footage of him exiting the building could be found, he was declared a missing person amid news reports claiming that he had been tortured and dismembered inside the consulate. When the disappearance of Khashoggi was first reported by the news media, Saudi Arabia claimed he had left the consulate via a back entrance and denied having any knowledge about his fate. Turkish media published evidence suggesting that Khashoggi never came out of the consulate. Saudi Arabia subsequently denied any involvement in his disappearance.
The international community called for accountability of those responsible for the killing and more clarity on the case from Saudi authorities. Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities reported various findings to news media from the ongoing investigation of the case that refuted Saudi claims. Saudi Arabia was placed under unprecedented scrutiny, and economic and political pressure from the international community to disclose the facts. An inspection of the consulate, by Saudi and Turkish police, took place on 15 October. Turkish prosecutors reported they found evidence of tampering during the inspection and evidence that supported the belief that Khashoggi had been killed. 18 days later the Saudi government changed their position from no involvement, and admitted that Khashoggi died inside the consulate due to strangulation after an argument and fistfight. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called it a "rogue operation".Eighteen Saudis were arrested by Saudi authorities, including the team of 15 operatives which an anonymous Saudi official claimed General Ahmad Asiri sent to confront Khashoggi and, if necessary, detain him for return to Saudi Arabia. On 19 October, the Saudi prosecutor stated that the Saudi-Turkey joint team of investigators found evidence indicating the suspects acted with premeditated intent. The Saudi Royal family have denied ordering or sanctioning the killing. On 31 October, Istanbul's chief prosecutor released a statement stating that Khashoggi had been strangled as soon as he entered the consulate building, and that his body was dismembered and disposed of. On 15 November 2018, the Saudi prosecutor's office said eleven Saudi nationals had been indicted and charged with murdering Khashoggi and that five of them could face the death penalty, since it had been determined they were directly involved in "ordering and executing the crime". It alleged that shortly after Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, he was bound and then injected with a fatal sedative overdose. His body was dismembered and removed from the consulate by five suspects and given to a local collaborator for disposal. Saudi officials continued to deny that the Saudi Royal Family was involved in, ordered, or sanctioned the killing.
Turkish officials released an audio recording of Khashoggi's killing that they alleged contained evidence that Khashoggi had been assassinated by an elite death squad known as "Tiger Squad" on the orders of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Several days later, on 16 November, Central Intelligence Agency members who internally analyzed multiple sources of intelligence concluded that Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination. On 20 November, US President Donald Trump disputed the CIA assessment and stated that the investigation into Khashoggi's death had to continue. Muhammad Bin Salman denied that he had ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi but said that he bears all responsibility because it happened under his watch.