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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Saudi princess, jailed for 3 years without charge, released

Saudi officials were not immediately available to comment on the matter. (file)


Saudi authorities have released a princess and her daughter, who were held without charge for nearly three years in the capital, a human rights group said on Saturday.

57-year-old Basma bint Saud, a member of a royal family long seen as a proponent of women’s rights and a constitutional monarchy, has been detained since March 2019, and in April 2020, King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was asked to be released on health grounds.

ALQST for Human Rights said on Twitter: “Basma bint Saud Al Saud and his daughter Suhoud… have been released.”

“She was denied essential medical care for a potentially life-threatening condition,” the rights group said. “No charges were ever leveled against him during his detention.”

Saudi officials were not immediately available to comment on the matter.

According to a source close to the family, Princess Basma was arrested shortly before she planned to fly to Switzerland for medical treatment.

The nature of his illness has never been disclosed.

Prince Mohammed has overseen a reform campaign since being appointed in June 2017 by his father King Salman at the expense of the previous designated heir to the throne, Mohammed bin Nayef.

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Reforms include lifting a decades-long ban on women driving and easing so-called “guardianship” rules, which give men arbitrary rights over female relatives.

But Saudi officials have cracked down on dissidents and even potential opponents, ranging from campaigners to women’s rights activists, to even members of the royal family.

Princess Basma was held in Al-Hayer Prison, where several other political prisoners are held.

In written testimony to the United Nations in 2020 seen by AFP, her family said much of her detention was due to her “record as an outspoken critic of abuse”.

Written testimony said that he was also believed to be an aide of Mohammed bin Nayef.

In November 2017, a massive anti-corruption campaign saw Riyadh’s luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel serving for three months as a de facto detention center for dozens of princes and senior officials suspected of corruption or betrayal.

According to multiple sources, in March 2020, royal guards arrested King Salman’s brother and nephew, accusing him of orchestrating a coup against Prince Mohammed.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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