Two Saudi Princes Are Released After Graft ProbeBy
Sons of late King Abdullah are said to have left Ritz Carlton
Dozens of princes, officials have been detained in crackdown
Two sons of Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah have been released after being detained in the kingdom’s declared crackdown on corruption, according to a person familiar with the matter and a Saudi royal who celebrated their freedom on social media.
Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah, former governor of Mecca province, and the former head of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, have left the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh where detainees were being held, the person said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Princess Nouf bint Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud, a close relative of the late monarch, posted photos of the two and confirmed their release on her verified Twitter account.
Saudi authorities have said that they hope to collect as much as $100 billion from the princes, businessmen and officials who were detained in the Nov. 4 crackdown, which included one of the world’s richest men -- Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The government is now trying to wrap up the probe, and the attorney general said in a statement earlier this month that settlement talks are “expected to be concluded within a few weeks.”
More than 20 of the dozens of detainees have been released recently after agreeing financial settlements to avoid trial, the Okaz newspaper reported on Dec. 26. It wasn’t clear whether the two princes were released as part of a settlement or due to lack of evidence. Saudi officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, another son of the late monarch, secured his freedom last month after agreeing to pay more than the equivalent of $1 billion, a senior Saudi official said at the time. Prince Miteb was the head of the powerful National Guard until his detention.
Detainees who refuse a deal will have their cases transferred to public prosecution and could be held for six months while authorities investigate, with the potential for longer detentions “if warranted,” the attorney general said.
— With assistance by Sarah Algethami