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Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for 5 suspects charged with murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi

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People take part in a candlelight vigil to remember journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate on Oct. 25 in Istanbul. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and critic of the Saudi regime, went missing after entering the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia's Public Prosecutor's office announced Thursday that it is recommending the death penalty for five suspects who have been charged in the murder of Khashoggi. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia's Public Prosecutor's office announced Thursday that it is recommending the death penalty for five suspects who have been charged in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

What are the details?

During a news conference in Riyadh, the kingdom's deputy public prosecutor, Shalaan al-Shalaan, told reporters 21 people have been taken into custody in connection with the killing, 11 have been indicted, and the office is calling for the death penalty for five of them, Fox News reported.

According to CNN, Saudi authorities assert that the conspirators were divided into three groups: a negotiating team, an intelligence team, and a logistical team. They allege the murder was ordered by the head of the negotiating team.

No suspects were named by the officials.

The Saudi Public Prosecutor's office also said that Khashoggi was killed following "a fight and a quarrel" on Oct. 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. They claim the journalist was bound and then injected with a lethal dose of a sedative that resulted in his death, before his body was dismembered and given to a "local collaborator" for disposal.

Khashoggi's remains have not yet been found, but authorities said a search was ongoing.

Al-Shalaan also insisted the kingdom's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had no knowledge of the plot against Khashoggi.

What the background?

Turkish investigators were the first to sound the alarm over Khashoggi's death last month, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing that he would be personally involved in bringing the killers to justice.

The Saudi government initially denied Khashoggi was murdered, claiming he had left the Saudi consulate unharmed. But as Turkish authorities continued to release streams of evidence in the killing, the kingdom's narrative of what happened to the journalist has taken several turns.

Saudi authorities went from saying Khashoggi was not killed, to admitting that he was, and insisting that his death was an accident. Later, government representatives said the journalist died during a fist fight, and then they claimed he was actually killed after being placed in a chokehold.

Anything else?

Hours after the Saudi Public Prosecutor's Office held their news conference Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions against 17 individuals for their roles in connection with Khashoggi's death. In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said:

The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions. The United States continues to diligently work to ascertain all of the facts and will hold accountable each of those we find responsible in order to achieve justice for Khashoggi's fiancée, children, and the family he leaves behind.

The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists.

The Treasury Department's release named the suspects as senior Saudi official Saud Al-Qahtani, his subordinate Maher Mutreb, and 14 additional government underlings. Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi — who oversaw the Saudi consulate in Istanbul during the journalist's death — was also sanctioned by the U.S.

"All of these individuals are designated for being responsible for, or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in serious human rights abuse," the statement said.

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