Saudi Arabia releases two princes after graft probe
After a family member posted photos of Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, former head of the Saudi Red Crescent and Prince Mashal bin Abdullah, a previous governor on Mecca, the source confirmed their release.
The only brother remaining in detention is Prince Turki bin Abdullah, added the source, without saying if a cash settlement was needed in order to secure their release.
Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, another influential brother, was freed in late November following a three week detention, after agreeing on a settlement with authorities allegedly exceeding $1 billion.
The princes were among more than 200 princes, ministers and businessmen rounded up earlier, as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tightened his grip on power.
The suspects have been held at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel since early November and told to hand over assets and cash in exchange for their freedom.
Saudi authorities insist the financial settlements are not blackmail but an obligation to reimburse money taken illegally from the world’s top oil producer over several decades.
Last month the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dozens of elites, ostensibly to tackle corruption. Critics say it was also a way of consolidating his grip on power.
Most of those detained have struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom.
Rights groups have said the purge, which has seen some 320 people called in for questioning and over 159 people detained, has raised human rights concerns.
Head of the London-based ALQST Saudi rights group, Yahya Assiri, told The New Arab that authorities have failed to guarantee the detainees their right to due process.
"The releases have been carried without a legal basis for their arrests and without informing the public the reasons behind the arrests in the first place," Assiri said.
"This confirms that we do not live in a state that respects rule of law but that we live in the state of one man," he added.