Saudi Arabia deployed Twitter army against critics including Jamal Khashoggi, says report

Saudi Arabia deployed Twitter army against critics including Jamal Khashoggi, says report

Saudi Arabia deployed Twitter army against critics including Jamal Khashoggi, says report

The Saudi government apparently groomed a mole inside Twitter to keep tabs on dissidents as part of a wide-ranging operation that also unleashed vicious social media attacks on them, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The investigative piece raises new doubts about the kingdom's influence and investments in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and throughout the US.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi criticised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's "authoritarian rule" shortly before his death, in an interview published today following confirmation he died at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.

Asked by a reporter whether he thought Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death was credible, Mr. Trump said, "I do". He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.

"Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed who was sacked on Saturday in the fallout from Mr. Khashoggi's killing, was the strategist behind the operation, according to United States and Saudi officials, as well as activist organizations", the report said.

Turkish government sources have alleged that Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and the Saudi government, was tortured and murdered by a hit squad flown in from Riyadh.

He said: "We, as Saudi citizens, are proud of our mandate, who have spared no effort in caring for the homeland and the citizens of this blessed country".

"So long as investigations are underway, so long as we don't know what happened there, there is no reason to take positive decisions on arms exports to Saudi Arabia", he told German public television's Tagesthemen program.

But there was a clamour for more answers and to bring those behind the killing to justice. U.S. President Donald Trump, however, was an exception.

Saudi Arabia will now begin a full investigation of the incident, with a deadline of one month to produce a report.

American arms manufacturers make up more than half of all weapons imports to Saudi Arabia, the Institute finds.

Commenting on the latest Saudi statement on Saturday, Merkel said "nothing has been explained so far and we need to explain it".

The Spokeman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Stephane Dujarric, released a statement extending the UN Chief, Antonio Guterres', condolences to Khashoggi's family and friends.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia a year ago fearing he'd be arrested, and became a USA resident.

Trump has called the Saudi announcement a "good first step", but said what happened to Khashoggi was "unacceptable". It added: "As the foreign secretary has said, this was a bad act and those responsible must be held to account".

Mr Trump stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East, and pushed back against the need for sanctions against the country in light of the new information, talking about the effect of such a move on the USA economy.

Khashoggi described two of the prince's aides, including the since-dismissed media adviser Saud al-Qahtani, as "very thuggish".

Until the death of Saudi journalist in self-imposed exile and frequent critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul this month at the hands of goons in the employ of bin Salman's security services, all this public-relations effort noticeably blunted worldwide pressure against some nasty things he was doing like a catastrophic, brutal war in Yemen or crackdowns on dissent.

"I will remain a loyal servant to my country for all times", he wrote.

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