Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi royal who was abducted and detained in 2019, made contact with the outside world for the first time in over a year last week, two sources told Insider.
The princess and her daughter, Sohoud al-Sharif, were seized from their Jeddah apartment by Saudi state security agents on February 28, 2019, and taken to al-Ha’ir prison, near Riyadh, where they have remained.
In al-Ha’ir, the princess was permitted to contact her family by phone, but in April 2020 all her communications were cut after she begged her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for mercy on Twitter.
But last week, the princess made contact with her family in Jeddah, bringing to an end a year without news of her wellbeing. Basmah suffers from colonic and heart issues, as well as osteoporosis, and her family has for years been concerned about her health.
On May 13, 2021, Basmah called her son, Ahmed al-Sharif, from al-Ha’ir prison, a business associate and a close family member of the princess separately told Insider. Both people asked to be anonymous to avoid retribution, but their identities are known to Insider.
The conversation was cut off shortly after she mentioned that she had drawn up a will, the business associate told Insider, which the family member confirmed. The line cut off before Basmah could say what the will contained, the associate said.
“She was more than done, she was too sick, too fed up with all of that, and it was a very serious, concerning call because she is a very strong person,” the family member said. “It’s a triggering and a serious thing, and a worry.”
Basmah’s family says she is in dire need of medical care and that doctors tasked with helping her in al-Ha’ir are ill equipped to do so. “Basmah’s health situation is in a very critical state,” the family member said.
It was initially believed that Saudi authorities had detained Basmah because they believed she was trying to flee the country under the guise of seeking urgent medical care in Switzerland.
But her family previously told Insider that they believe her detention is instead linked to her claim to part of a multi-billion euro inheritance left by her father, King Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the second ruler of Saudi Arabia.
Insider contacted the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, and the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology for comment.
‘We’re just waiting for actions to be taken’
Basmah’s family says their attempts to contact Saudi authorities for answers have been routinely dismissed.
“They always say the same thing: that there’s no comment and no response,” the family member said.
The princess has not been charged with a crime, and her family are calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to intervene on her behalf.
“We’ve had a response back from them [the Biden administration],” the family member said. “Now we’re just waiting for actions to be taken, as from the beginning it’s all been talk, talk, talk, talk.”
Henri Estramant, a legal advisor to Princess Basmah, told Insider: “We are not seeking a regime change but rather the support of the Biden administration for the prevalence of the rule of law in Saudi Arabia.”
“According to the latter the princess should already be free, for no trial ever convened.”
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