CNN and the Wall Street Journal quote unnamed sources saying Riyadh is preparing to admit that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during a botched interrogation at the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia is preparing a report that would admit Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, CNN and the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.
One source cautioned that the report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said.
The other source said the report would likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and that those involved will be held responsible, according to the cable news outlet.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, also said the kingdom is weighing whether to say that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi by mistake during an interrogation.
The Journal, like CNN, said the Saudi statement has not been finalised.
In a statement published on the Washington Post website, Khashoggi’s family urged for an “independent and impartial international commission” to look into his disappearance.
“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago, when he disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Our family is traumatised, and yearns to be together during this painful time. The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death. We are grateful to all those who have respected our privacy during these difficult times,” the statement said.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday he had seen a media report that Saudi officials might say Khashoggi was killed during an unauthorised interrogation, but "nobody knows" if this was an official report.
Calling Khashoggi's disappearance a "terrible situation," he further said that the US is working with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to figure out what happened.
Khashoggi, a US resident and a Riyadh critic columnist at The Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago to get marriage documents. Turkish officials have said authorities believe he was murdered there and his body removed.
Saudi Arabia had earlier denied killing Khashoggi and denounced such assertions as "lies", saying he left the building shortly after entering.
A Turkish official and a security source told Reuters on Monday that the authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, without providing further details.
The official said evidence was being shared with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The case has provoked an international outcry, with US President Donald Trump threatening "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and European allies urging "a credible investigation" and accountability for those responsible.
TRT World's Francis Collings has more from outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.