MbS' 'scapegoated adviser' Saud al-Qahtani pledges continued loyalty
A controversial Saudi royal court media advisor who was sacked over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has pledged to continue serving the kingdom.
Saud al-Qahtani, who was often described as Mohammed bin Salman's 'media enforcer', made the comments on Twitter hours after Riyadh conceded that Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul consulate.
"I express my gratitude to the king and the crown prince for the great confidence they have given me and for providing me with the great opportunity to serve my nation over the past years," Qahtani tweeted.
"I will always to be a loyal servant of my country," he added.
Qahtani was sacked along with deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri - in a move that has widely been seen as an attempt to scapegoat the officials and cover up Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's role in Khashoggi's murder.
Qahtani, who was allegedly involved in attempts to lure Khashoggi back to the kingdom prior to his death, has said in previous online statements that he takes all his orders from Prince Mohammed.
"I don't do anything from my own head without an order. I am an employee and executer to my king and my crown prince," he said.
Their oustings came alongside the arrests of 18 Saudi suspects and the dismissal of other intelligence officials.
Qahtani, said to be 40-years-old, steered online propaganda campaigns against the kingdom's adversaries such as Qatar and Iran on social media.
Writing for the Washington Post earlier this year, Khashoggi said Qahtani maintained a "blacklist" for writers critical of the kingdom and was known to intimidate them.
In an off-record interview to Newsweek magazine prior to his death - which was published on Saturday - Khashoggi described Qahtani and another Saudi top official Turki al-Sheikh as "thuggish".
"People fear them. You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened," he was quoted as saying.
He called Qahtani the "most important man in (Saudi) media", saying he controlled the government's PR activities.