AUTHORITY of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has freed a princess and her daughter who had been detained without charge for nearly three years in the capital, a human rights group said on Saturday.
Basma bint Saud, 57, a member of the royal family long seen as a defender of women’s rights and a constitutional monarchy, has been in detention since March 2019, and in April 2020 she implored King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to release her for health reasons.
“Basma bint Saud Al Saud and his daughter Suhoud … have been released,” the ALQST for Human Rights said on Twitter.
“He was denied the medical care he needed for a life-threatening condition,” the human rights group added. “At no time during his detention has any charge been brought against him.”
Saudi officials were not immediately available to comment on the case.
Princess Basmah was arrested shortly before a planned trip to Switzerland for medical treatment, according to a source close to the family.
The nature of his illness has never been revealed.
Prince Mohammed has overseen a reform campaign since his father, King Salman, appointed him in June 2017 at the expense of the previous designated heir to the throne, Mohammed bin Nayef.
The reforms have included lifting a decades-long ban on women from driving and relaxing so-called “guardianship” rules that give men arbitrary authority over female relatives.
But the Saudi authorities have also cracked down on dissidents and even potential opponents, from preachers to women’s rights activists, even royalty.
Princess Basmah was held in Al-Ha’ir Prison, where many other political detainees have been held.
In written testimony to the United Nations in 2020, seen by AFP, his family said his arrest was likely due in large part to his “record as outspoken criticism of abuses.”
She was also considered an ally of Mohammed bin Nayef, the written testimony added.
In November 2017, a major anti-corruption campaign caused the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh to serve for three months as a de facto detention center for dozens of princes and high-ranking officials suspected of corruption or disloyalty.
In March 2020, the royal guard arrested King Salman’s brother and nephew, accusing them of fomenting a coup against Prince Mohammed, according to various sources.
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