Saudi Rulers Detain President of Marine Sports Federation over Purge

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – President of the Saudi Marine Sports Federation was removed from his post and arrested after he released an audio recording that contradicted the Saudi authorities' version of the arrest of 11 princes in Riyadh last week, reports said.

شاهزاده بن سعود

Prince Abdullah bin Saud, who was appointed president of the Saudi Marine Sports Federation back in October, stressed that the recording, which was released on Monday, was his own personal initiative.

The arrests occurred on January 4, and were carried out by an elite force called the Blood-rusted Sword that is directly linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The official version given by the government was that the princes were arrested after protesting austerity measures in front of a royal palace, Doha-based Al Jazeera reported.

Yet, Saudi activists on social media said the rally was an objection to a campaign of arrests targeting royals and the absence of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

"Because I am close to the events, I want to clarify an important point," Abdullah bin Saud began. "These young men are the finest youth of our country, and there is no way that they can object to the orders of the rulers."

He went on to say that the princes were slapped with "false and illogical" accusations of caring too much about "money and the pleasures of the world".

"They had arrived at the palace to accompany their relative who was called to be asked about his previous job," Abdullah bin Saud said. "Upon arrival, he was let in but they were prevented from entering with him, and a brief physical fight with the guards occurred."

The fight resulted in the issuance of orders to arrest the princes, he said.

The day after the recording was released, the chairman of the General Authority of Sport, Turki Al-Sheikh issued an order to remove bin Saud from his position immediately.

Bin Saud reportedly stands accused of contradicting the official state version, which stated that the princes concerned had gathered in front of the palace protesting the imposition of electricity and water bills on them, and demanding material compensation for the implementation of state retribution against their cousin.

Several Saudi websites said that bin Saud is being held at the Ha'ir prison in Riyadh, where other royal members who were previously arrested and confined to the Ritz Carlton Hotel were transferred.

Dozens of royal family members, officials and business executives have already been held in the purge announced on november. They face allegations of money laundering, bribery, extortion and exploiting public office for personal gain.

In the meantime, commenting on the purge, Human Rights Watch called on Saudi authorities to “immediately reveal the legal and evidentiary basis for each person’s detention and make certain that each person detained can exercise their due process rights”.

“It’s great that Saudi authorities are declaring that they want to take on the scourge of corruption, but the right way to do that is through diligent judicial investigations against actual wrongdoing, not sensationalistic mass arrests to a luxury hotel,” Right Watch official Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement.

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