Prominent Saudi Arabian Princess Basmah Bint Saud, who is being held with her daughter Souhoud in Riyadh, is suffering from a heart condition that requires urgent medical treatment, her supporters have claimed. They have sent two letters, one to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the other to Commonwealth of Nations Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, urging both to intervene on behalf of the princess.
The daughter of King Saud Bin Abdulaziz was placed under house arrest for wanting reform in the Kingdom. A number of sources claim that a group of eight men appeared at her home in Jeddah on 28 February 2019 as she was preparing to leave with her family to go to Switzerland for treatment.
“We believe that her life depends on her release,” said the family’s legal adviser, Henri Estramant, and Lucy Rae of the British human rights organisation Grant Liberty. The details of the letters were released to the Guardian. “We are begging you to intercede. As they are citizens of the Commonwealth we believe you have a moral obligation to fight their corner.”
In 2015 Princess Basmah and Souhoud became dual nationals of Saudi Arabia and the island of Dominica, a Commonwealth nation, after applying under their citizenship-by-investment programme. The letter mentioned Basmah’s ties to Britain, including her education at a school in Hertfordshire and a London-based research centre, Global United Research and Analysis.
It is said that the princess and her daughter were taken to Ha’ir Prison, an infamous maximum security facility in Riyadh that houses an estimated 5,000 prisoners, including feminist activist Loujain Al Hathloul before her release in February. “You will be aware that Al Ha’ir is a well-known hub for the torture and abuse of prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia,” Estramant and Rae wrote to Raab.
Asking the Foreign Secretary to intervene, they added, “We believe that the Saudi authorities are particularly sensitive to diplomatic pressure at present, and we further believe that an intervention by you could make the difference.”
The Saudis have accused the princess of criminal offences involving attempts to travel outside the Kingdom “illegally”. Her daughter Souhoud was apparently arrested for “assaulting an agent while he was carrying out his duties”, as well as “cybercrime”.