In a report published on Friday, Reporters Without Borders criticized Saud al-Qahtani, the former adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying he “still enjoys protection and freedom” after being accused of that he participated in the murder of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in his country’s consulate, Istanbul in 2018.
The organization added in its lengthy report that “Four years after the brutal assassination of Khashoggi, none of the 26 men involved in his murder have faced any real punishment. The man accused of leading them , Saud al-Qahtani, has never been tried.”
She pointed out that Al-Qahtani “has been out of the public eye since 2019, his name has recently returned to social networks in the Kingdom, amid reports suggesting that he will soon return to the heart of the government, which now is officially on its way. by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
Al-Qahtani, a former adviser close to Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the royal court, is accused of overseeing the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Riyadh consulate in Istanbul, and is being granted access to the United States refused.
Al-Qahtani disappeared from view after the assassination in Istanbul, which he was accused of planning.
And a US intelligence report on the assassination of Khashoggi in 2018 concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “approved” his kidnapping or murder.
Prince Mohammed has denied ordering Khashoggi’s murder, but said he ultimately bears responsibility as it happened while he was in a position of power.
Khashoggi, who went to the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul to extract identification documents, entered the consulate building and never left it as a Saudi unit waited inside.
After initially denying that the assassination took place, Riyadh reaffirmed that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents acting on their own.
Under intense pressure from the United States and the international community, Riyadh prosecuted some of those involved in the assassination of the dissident journalist.
At the end of the trial, which took place behind closed doors, a Saudi court acquitted al-Qahtani in the assassination case. Five defendants, whose names have not been released, were sentenced to death and three others to long prison terms.
Khashoggi’s family later pardoned the convicts, and months later the court overturned the death sentences and replaced them with sentences of up to twenty years in prison.
Reporters Without Borders says that “since the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, there have been failed trials in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and it has become clear that no accountability will be achieved in these countries.”
She added, “Other prosecution and accountability mechanisms are more urgent than ever. Therefore, we call for new legal avenues to be sought with other judicial authorities, to ensure justice for Khashoggi, and to be a clear sign that impunity for such heinous crimes against journalists will not be tolerated.” It is tolerated anywhere.”
The organization cited a Reuters report published in October 2018 that on October 2, 2018, Al-Qahtani ordered to kill Khashoggi via Skype, saying: “Bring me the dog’s head.”
In September 2020, a Saudi judicial spokesman said that the Riyadh Criminal Court had handed down sentences against those found guilty in the Jamal Khashoggi case, with a total of 124 years in prison, adding that these sentences were “final”. .
The official spokesman of the Saudi Public Prosecution said that “the court issued sentences against eight people and acquired the mandatory character, as it sentenced five culprits to 20 years in prison, 10 years to three of them and seven years to two .”
The spokesperson added that “these provisions, according to their statement, after the termination of the right to the legal renunciation of his relatives, stipulate imprisonment for a total of 124 years, the sentence of which is extended to each convict according to the criminal act. committed by him, and it became final and enforceable.”
In December 2019, a Saudi court handed down death sentences to five people, and three prison terms for Khashoggi’s murder, but Khashoggi’s family later said it had pardoned his killers, paving the way for their release under Saudi law .
The spokesperson did not disclose the names of the convicts, the charges against each of them or the payments they made.
The organization notes that “despite the information incriminating Al-Qahtani, the Saudi government claimed it did not find sufficient evidence to charge him, and he was never tried.”
“He is believed to have led the 15 men who participated in the arrest and murder of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as well as the subsequent cover-up of the crime.”
Reporters Without Borders says that after news of his involvement in the murder became public, Al-Qahtani disappeared from the public eye and was fired from his job as a consultant in early 2019. Since then, Al-Qahtani has not appeared in public, his Twitter account calmed down and was suspended in September 2019. The silence by an influential political figure has led many to speculate that his government killed him to cover up the crime. But soon after, on December 23, 2019, the Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor and his spokesperson, Shalan Al-Shaalan, said that Al-Qahtani had been investigated but not charged. And he was released.”
In October 2021, The Guardian reported that “in a move seen as an indication of his gradual return, influencers loyal to the Saudi government began portraying the former adviser to the Saudi crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, as a devoted patriot in the service of the kingdom.”
Three years after Khashoggi’s assassination, pro-government influencers on social media are recasting al-Qahtani as a patriot who served the country well.
The newspaper report indicated that the move was seen as a sign of his gradual return to power.