Saudi princess, daughter released after almost 3 years in jail

Saudi authorities have released Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a businesswoman and an outspoken human rights advocate, and her daughter, who had been detained without charge for nearly three years.

A legal adviser to Princess Basmah announced on Saturday that she and her daughter, Suhoud Al Sharif, had been freed from custody.

“The two ladies were released from their arbitrary imprisonment, and arrived at their home in Jeddah on Thursday 6 January 2022,” Henri Estramant said.

“The princess is doing fine but will be seeking medical expertise. She seems worn out but is in good spirits, and thankful to reunite with her sons in person.”

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.”

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.

She further demanded that her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, release her and provide her with medical care.

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.

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