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Jailed Saudi royals hire Washington lobbyists to secure their freedom: Report

Imprisoned members of the Saudi royal family have sought the help of lobbyists with close ties to the US president
Several prominent US lawmakers have raised concerns over the kingdom's crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Salman (AFP/File photo)

Associates of jailed members of the Saudi royal family have hired lobbyists with close connections to US President Donald Trump to advocate for their release, the New York Times reported.

A former senior associate of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud hired Robert Stryk, a lobbyist with strong connections to Trump's foreign policy circles, to "advocate for the release" of the prince, the Times reported on Monday.

Filings submitted by Stryk's consulting firm, Sonoran Policy Group, indicate he will lobby the United States, Britain, France and the European Union for six months for the release of Prince Salman.

According to the Times, Stryk has connections with key figures in Trump's inner circle. He's worked with the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and is close to Kirsten Fontenrose, who was the lead official on Trump's National Security Council handling American policy toward Saudi Arabia before resigning in late 2018.

The Times also said that a top adviser for former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef hired Barry Bennet, a lobbyist that advised Trump's presidential campaign, to lobby for the "emigration of foreign nationals for humanitarian reasons".

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The filing does not indicate whose emigration is being sought or why.

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Mohammed bin Nayef, who is a former Saudi interior minister and the nephew of King Salman, is believed to have been detained in March after a mass purge of senior Saudi royals by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).  

The prince was named as successor to King Salman shortly after he took the throne in 2015, but was replaced by bin Salman in June 2017. 

After his unseating as crown prince, bin Nayef had his entourage, mobile phones and allowances stripped and was not allowed to travel. Sources familiar with the situation told Middle East Eye that the prince had complained bitterly to friends, and in letters to the king, about the withdrawal of his royal allowances.

Meanwhile, the representatives of Princess Basmah bint Saud, the daughter of Saudi Arabia's King Saud, have reached out to lawyers in Washington and London about rallying support for her cause.

Last month, Princess Basmah revealed in a letter that she had been detained without charge, pleading to King Salman and MBS for her release.

However a representative of Basmah said they were unable to hire any firm because the Saudi government had frozen her bank accounts after she appealed for help on Twitter.

Several US lawmakers have raised concerns over MBS's rule, from his military offensive in Yemen, to the grisly murder of Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist Jamal Khashoggi, to the recent oil price war between the kingdom and Russia.

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