RIYADH (Reuters) – The family of a former top Saudi spy agency official who is living in exile and locked in an international feud with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman say they have become pawns in the kingdom’s efforts to bring the spy chief home.
A Saudi court jailed two of Saad al-Jabri’s adult children late last year for money laundering and conspiracy to escape the kingdom unlawfully, charges they deny.
Now, an attempt by the family to appeal the convictions has failed, according to Saudi authorities. The Jabri family alleges that Saudi authorities interfered in the legal process, including circumventing appeals proceedings, which Riyadh denies.
A Saudi official told Reuters in a written statement that the convictions of the Jabri children "were upheld on appeal.”
The appeal, which hasn’t been previously reported, comes as the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has raised concerns with senior Saudi officials about the children’s detention and trial, according to the State Department.
The family’s assertions are the latest volley in an acrimonious dispute playing out in courtrooms in the United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia between the former spy agency official and the crown prince. Known widely as MbS, the crown prince has tightened his grip on power in recent years. Al-Jabri was a long-time aide to another royal, Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, whom MbS ousted as heir to the throne in a 2017 palace coup. MbS is now de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
Last summer, al-Jabri accused MbS in a civil suit in U.S. federal court of sending agents in 2018 to Canada, where Al-Jabri now lives, to kill him. In January, a group of Saudi state-owned firms alleged in a lawsuit in Canada that al-Jabri embezzled billions of dollars of state funds while working at the Ministry of Interior. Charges he denies.
Al-Jabri’s family say Omar and Sarah Al-Jabri – aged 23 years and 21 years respectively – filed their appeal in late November in the court of appeals in Riyadh. The two siblings are currently in prison in Saudi Arabia, according to the Jabri family.
Saudi authorities have made repeated attempts to lure the former spy agency official back to the kingdom, according to the family. Al-Jabri alleges in his U.S. lawsuit that his knowledge of "sensitive, humiliating and damning information” posed an existential threat to the crown prince.