- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2019

Twitter on Friday said it permanently suspended the account of Saud al-Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian media consultant suspected in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a blog post, Twitter’s safety team said the former aide to the Saudi crown prince was banned as a result of unspecified violations of its platform-manipulation policies.

Twitter declined to comment beyond the blog post. The social networking service’s rules against platform manipulation prohibit users from engaging in “bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity that misleads others and/or disrupts their experience.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi-born dissident and U.S. resident, was killed last year after entering a Saudi Arabian consulate building in Turkey. American and Turkish officials have since concluded that his murder was ordered by Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, and have taken action against several of his associates held responsible, including Mr. al-Qahtani, the leader’s former aide and adviser.

Mr. al-Qahtani worked for years under Saudi leadership prior to being fired shortly following Khashoggi’s murder last October. Turkish authorities issued a warrant for his arrest weeks later, and the U.S. State Department sanctioned Mr. al-Qahtani in April, effectively barring him and his family from entering the United States.

The account belonging to Mr. al-Qahtani had been dormant for a year before being suspended, CNN reported.

Twitter said Friday that it separately identified and suspended a handful of accounts that masqueraded as independent news outlets but that were connected to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“While active, the accounts in this set presented themselves as independent journalistic outlets while tweeting narratives favourable to the Saudi government,” said Twitter.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Hundreds of other Twitter accounts originating in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Spain, Ecuador and China have been recently punted for engaging in prohibited information operations, the social networking service said.

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