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Jailed Saudi princess asks crown prince and king for mercy during Ramadan

Princess Basmah bint Saud, who disappeared a year ago and is a critic of the kingdom, says her health is in a 'very critical' state
Princess Basmah Bint Saud speaking at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC on 12 April 2017 (AFP)

A jailed Saudi princess has urged her uncle, King Salman, and her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to "find justice in their hearts" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and release her from prison. 

Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 55, spoke out earlier this month for the first time since going missing over a year ago. She explained in a series of tweets that she was being held arbitrarily at al-Hair prison in Riyadh, and that her health was deteriorating severely. 

On Monday night she released a second plea, urging the Saudi leadership to have mercy on her during Ramadan. 

“This week, Muslims around the globe begin our holy month of Ramadan, one that most of us shall spend with family, even if much limited owing to the ongoing pandemic,” she said. 

“I... will be spending the month at Hair prison unless my uncle, custodian of the two holy mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, and my cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, decide to release me.”

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The princess repeated that she had been abducted with one of her daughters, with no charges or investigation, and that her health was in a “very critical” state. 

She urged the king and crown prince to “find in their hearts the sense of justice that ought to be impregnated in any Muslim during Ramadan”, and release “their relative held arbitrarily in the worst conditions possible, in spite [of] her service for the kingdom”. 

The statement was posted on Princess Basmah’s official Twitter account in both English and Arabic. She also clarified that her first statement two weeks ago was deleted due to a “breach of the account”, and that all posts from now on would be published by her media office.

The princess is the youngest child of former King Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the second monarch of Saudi Arabia, and the granddaughter of Ibn Saud, the founder and first monarch of Saudi Arabia.

She has built a reputation as an outspoken member of the Saudi royal family, having in the past called for the country to adopt a constitutional monarchy, criticised the religious police, and spoken out on women’s and humanitarian rights issues.

In a January 2018 interview with BBC Arabic, believed to be her last major media appearance, Basmah bint Saud urged Saudi Arabia to end its military intervention in Yemen. 

News of her detention emerged just weeks after a number of Saudi princes were arrested as part of a mass purge by Mohammed bin Salman. 

Relatives of a number of Saudi political prisoners have also called for their loved ones to be released during Ramadan - amid fears that coronavirus may spread in detention centres.

On Friday, the death of prominent Saudi activist Abdullah al-Hamid while in custody sparked shock and denunciation.

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