A Saudi princess who was jailed for three years by the royal family without any charges has been released, along with her daughter, who had been detained with her.
Princess Basmah bint Saud Al Saud, the youngest daughter of King Saud, was arrested in March 2019 by eight armed men when she was trying to leave Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment in Switzerland with her daughter, Suhoud al-Sharif.
A human rights activist, the 57-year-old had criticized the kingdom’s legal system, which is based on Shariah – or Islamic – law, and written articles about the difficulties that Saudi faced in their lives.
Saudi activists say Princess Basmah had been critical of the kingdom’s treatment of women and the crackdown on dissent as her cousin and Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, rose to power, the Guardian reported.
She was one of a number of prominent Saudi activists, dissidents and members of the royal family who were jailed or put under house arrest during the crown prince’s rise.
The mother and daughter were held in the maximum security al-Ha’ir Prison near the capital Riyadh, along with activists such as women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was freed last year, had been held.
Her legal representative said she had not been allowed regular contact with her family or been provided with any legal advice, Forbes reported.
Saudi officials told the United Nations in 2020 that Princess Basmah had been “accused of criminal offenses involving attempting to travel outside the kingdom illegally” and her daughter had been accused of assaulting an agent and a cybercrime.
They were not formally charged and released on Thursday Jan. 6, arriving back at their home in Jeddah, the legal advisor said on Saturday Jan. 8.
“The princess is doing fine but will be seeking medical expertise,” he said. “She seems worn out but is in good spirits, and thankful to reunite with her sons in person.”
However, it remains unclear whether she will be allowed to travel abroad to seek medical care not available in the kingdom for a heart condition, her legal advisor said, according to the New York Times.