Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud took to Twitter to claim that she is being detained without charge in the Saudi capital of Riyadh with her daughter. An outspoken human rights advocate, the granddaughter of Saudi Arabia’s founder King Ibn Saud claims she has received no explanation for her arrest and detention in al-Hai’ir prison, despite repeated pleas to her uncle King Salman.
News of her detention came as a shock to many in the court, some of whom said that she hadn’t been heard from for close to a year, and was thought to be sick. Saudi Princess Basmah and her daughter were arrested as they tried to leave for Switzerland in March of last year, claiming to be in need of ‘medical treatment’.
The reasons for her arrest are suspected to be her criticism of the royal family. She had been a frequent advocate for women’s and democratic rights in the country, calling for Saudi Arabia to become a constitutional monarchy. She also criticized the excesses in the Saudi-led war against Yemen. This arrest is thought to be yet another stepping stone in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s path to the throne, beginning with his ousting of his uncle, Mohammed bin Nayef, nearly three years ago. The Prince, given immense powers by his father, has demanded complete loyalty from senior royals, and has taken to using extortion, arrest, detention, and assassination as threats to prevent any betrayal.