SANA’A (Press TV) – A recent classified document has revealed that a high-ranking official from the administration of Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, is in close contact with criminal networks that loot archaeological goods and artwork from ancient heritage sites across the war-stricken country, and sell them to antiquities traffickers.
The document, recently leaked by Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha), shows that networks affiliated with pro-Hadi Yemeni minister of information Muammar al-Aryani are smuggling antiquities out of the country, and the artifacts later head for the European black market through Saudi territory.
It went on to say that smuggled antiquities are sold at very low prices in the European market, and that a large number of the objects have been discovered inside a building on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh.
According to the document, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, has written a letter to the chairman of the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, Mazen bin Ibrahim al-Kahmous, informing him that London police had arrested a number of antiquities traffickers who were Saudi nationals.
Kahmous wrote in response that investigations had revealed that the smuggling network was connected to Aryani.
While the document has been widely circulated among Saudi and Yemeni social media users, Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority has opted to deny it.
Yemen’s bloody six-year conflict has not spared the country’s rich cultural heritage. It is estimated that more than a million antiquities have been smuggled out of Yemen since the start of the Saudi-led military onslaught.
The Persian Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) said in a report that the Saudi-led coalition is targeting Yemeni historical and cultural sites in addition to civilian infrastructure.