That general has since been named by The New York Times as Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, who was promoted to Saudi intelligence past year.
On Nov. 15, a spokesman for the Saudi public prosecutor's office said the deputy chief of Saudi intelligence, General Ahmed al-Assiri, had given an order to force Khashoggi home - and "the head of the negotiating team" that flew to Istanbul had ordered his murder.
Eleven out of the 21 people held have been charged with murder, Mr Shaalan said.
"This is clearly an attempt to display to the world that a semblance of accountability is being applied in Riyadh, but the question that has been asked will continue to be asked", said H.A. Hellyer, senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute in London.
"Those who gave the order, the real perpetrators need to be revealed".More news: Trump may soon replace chief of staff and DHS secretary, reports say
That stance was reiterated by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who said the prince had absolutely nothing to do with the case and accused Turkey of ignoring Saudi requests for information.
Saudi Arabia's initial explanations for Khashoggi's death have met with global skepticism that centers on Prince Mohammed, who has shown a drive to silence dissent as he consolidates power.
The announcement follows growing worldwide outcry over the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi rulers who was last seen entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage. He held a USA green card and lived near Washington, DC, for at least a year before his death.
The US Treasury said Thursday that it would sanction 17 individuals linked to the "abhorrent killing."On the list was Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to the crown prince, and the consul general of the Istanbul mission, Mohammed al-Otaibi".
Ryan says in a statement that the Saudi investigation has "been an effort to shield those ultimately responsible for this heinous crime when there is every reason to believe that it was authorized at the highest levels of the Saudi government".
Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and prominent journalist who was critical of the Saudi government, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October after going in to retrieve personal documents.
They were divided into three groups, the the prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.
"It's a pressure point that Erdogan can continue to push on and I think he will do that". He stressed that Khashoggi case will not change the Kingdom's policies towards terrorism or Iran.
In an apparent reference this specialist, al-Shalan said the organizer of the operation called on a specialist to be part of the team to erase evidence if Khashoggi needed to be forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia.