RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi
authorities have released a princess and her daughter who had been detained without charge for nearly three years, her legal advisor says.
Princess Basmah Bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 57, a businesswoman, rights activist and member of the royal family, went missing in March 2019 along with her adult daughter Souhoud Al Sharif.
“The two ladies were released from their arbitrary imprisonment, and arrived at their home in Jeddah on Thursday 6th January, 2022,” her legal advisor Henri Estramant said.
“The princess is doing fine but will be seeking medical expertise,” Estramant added. “She seems worn out but is in good spirits, and thankful to reunite with her sons in person.”
A human rights group also confirmed the news in a post on its Twitter account.
“She was denied the medical care she needed for a potentially life threatening condition,” ALQST for Human Rights said in its post. “At no point during her detention has any charge been leveled against her.”
Princess Basmah, the youngest child of former King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was detained in March 2019 as she prepared to fly to Switzerland for medical treatment.
In 2020, Princess Basmah said via her social media channels that she had been held in the capital Riyadh for more than a year and was sick.
She further demanded that her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, release her and provide her with medical care.
Princess Basmah built a reputation as an outspoken member of the Saudi royal family. She had called for the kingdom to adopt a constitutional monarchy and spoken out on women’s and human rights issues.
In written testimony to the United Nations in 2020, her family said her detention was likely due in large part to her “record as an outspoken critic of abuses.”
She has also been deemed an ally of former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the testimony added.
The Saudi government media office did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The government has never publicly commented about the case.
Last July, representatives of the family of Princess Basmah filed an appeal with UN experts at the Human Rights Council requesting that the world body intervene in her case.
Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents ever since bin Salman became the kingdom’s de facto leader in 2017, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.