BEIRUT (Dispatches) – A Lebanese music composer close to the president’s party is believed to be detained in Saudi Arabia for unknown reasons, according to local media reports confirmed by two sources close to him and a security source.
An official source said Lebanon’s foreign ministry had tried to ask Saudi authorities about the whereabouts of Samir Sfeir, a well-known musician who has sung about President Michel Aoun.
The Lebanese foreign ministry declined to comment. Saudi Arabia’s government media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An MP from Aoun’s political party, Salim Aoun, had tweeted asking: "Where is Samir Sfeir?” with a hashtag calling for his "freedom”.
According to the al-Akhbar newspaper, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry contacted the Saudi Embassy about the arrest and, later, Sfeir’s wife was promised a visit to her husband but when she arrived in Riyadh, she was not granted permission to visit him.
The Lebanese paper also said that Saudi authorities had so far refused to respond to requests for providing Beirut with information on why Sfeir was arrested.
Other media outlets said Sfeir set out for Riyadh following an invitation from Waleed bin Ghazi, a personal assistant to the Saudi information minister.
According to reports, Sfeir’s family has been unaware of his condition for several days and the Lebanese artist is being kept in Saudi Arabia’s political prison, Dehun.
There are speculations that he has faced the same tragic fate as Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in 2018.
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after he was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
The Saudi government initially claimed Khashoggi had left the consulate on that day, but was later forced to admit the killing as incriminating evidence piled up.
The CIA has concluded that the crown prince personally ordered the assassination.