A top Saudi official who was officially fired from his post by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) for his alleged role in journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder continues to serve as a “royal adviser” in an unofficial capacity, The Wall Street Journal reports. Saud al-Qahtani was reportedly MBS' “right-hand man” before he was fired after Khashoggi's murder at Istanbul's Saudi Arabian consulate late last year. Al-Qahtani reportedly had “extensive sway over domestic and foreign affairs” and spearheaded an effort to “monitor and intimidate critics [of Saudi Arabia] on social media.” Saudi officials told the newspaper that al-Qahtani, who has been sanctioned by the U.S., still performs tasks for MBS like “issuing directives to local journalists and brokering meetings” for him. “We don’t see that Saud al-Qahtani is very constrained in his activities,” one State Department official was quoted as saying. Saudi authorities are said to have resisted pressure from U.S. officials to hold al-Qahtani responsible, though he is still reportedly under investigation by the Saudi public prosecutor. In addition, Turkey is reportedly seeking al-Qahtani's extradition to face charges for Khashoggi's murder. Khashoggi—a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government—was killed late last year under the directive of MBS, according to U.S. intelligence.
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