US wants ex-Saudi aide punished in Khashoggi killing

            By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. is asking Saudi Arabia behind closed doors to hold a former top official implicated in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to account, according to a report published Monday. </p>  <p>Riyadh has thus far staunchly resisted U.S. pressure to take action against Saud al-Qahtani over Khashoggi's Oct. 2 slaying in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous Saudi and American officials. </p>  <p>Al-Qahtani previously served as the de facto right-hand man to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a post he has since been formally removed from even as he has continued to serve as an informal adviser to Saudi Arabia's royal court. </p>  <p> “We don’t see that Saud al-Qahtani is very constrained in his activities,” an anonymous senior State Department official told the newspaper. </p>  <p>Al-Qahtani was one of 17 Saudis sanctioned by the U.S. in December over Khashoggi's killing. Turkey is also seeking his extradition. </p>  <p>Saudi officials confirmed to the Journal that he remains an informal advisor to bin Salman, the Kingdom's de facto ruler, even after he was fired by Saudi King Salman.</p>  <p>Pressure has continued on the U.S. administration to hold bin Salman personally responsible for Khashoggi's killing, but it has so far resisted. </p>  <p>Last Friday, President Donald Trump ignored a congressional deadline to publicly determine whether sanctions are warranted against bin Salman.