Outspoken Saudi Princess, Daughter Released after 3 Years in Jail
- January, 09, 2022 - 14:20
- World news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Saudi authorities have released a princess and her daughter who had been detained without charge for nearly three years, her legal adviser said on Saturday.
Princess Basmah Bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 57, a businesswoman, rights activist and member of the royal family, went missing in March 2019 along with her adult daughter Souhoud Al Sharif, according to Reuters.
"The two ladies were released from their arbitrary imprisonment, and arrived at their home in Jeddah on Thursday 6th January, 2022," her legal adviser Henri Estramant said.
"The princess is doing fine but will be seeking medical expertise," Estramant added. "She seems worn out but is in good spirits, and thankful to reunite with her sons in person."
A legal adviser to Princess Basmah announced on Saturday that she and her daughter, Suhoud Al Sharif, had been freed from custody.
A human rights group also confirmed the news in a post on its Twitter account.
“She was denied the medical care she needed for a potentially life threatening condition,” ALQST for Human Rights said in its post. “At no point during her detention has any charge been levelled against her.”
The princess has been critical of the kingdom's treatment of women.
Princess Basmah, the youngest child of former King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was detained in March 2019 as she prepared to fly to Switzerland for medical treatment.
The following year, she said via social media that she had been held without charge at the maximum-security al-Ha’ir prison near the capital Riyadh, where numerous other political detainees are imprisoned.
Princess Basmah built a reputation as an outspoken member of the Saudi royal family. She had called for the kingdom to adopt a constitutional monarchy and spoken out on women’s and human rights issues.
In written testimony to the United Nations in 2020, her family said her detention was likely due in large part to her “record as an outspoken critic of abuses.”
She has also been deemed an ally of former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the testimony added.
Last July, representatives of the family of Princess Basmah filed an appeal with UN experts at the Human Rights Council requesting that the world body intervene in her case.
“There are real and serious concerns that Princess Basmah and Suhoud are arbitrarily detained, in circumstances that present a serious risk to life, have been denied their right to a fair trial, and their treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment, contrary to international law,” the filing read.
Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents ever since bin Salman became the kingdom’s de facto leader in 2017, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.