Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has widened the scope of the crackdown on dissent by detaining yet another member of the royal family, reported The New York Times. While the full extent of the roundup is still not clear, earlier the reports of the Saudi authorities detaining three members of the royal family had emerged.
According to US media reports, Crown Prince’s brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef were arrested on the charges of treason. The arrests of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and his son Prince Nayef came as a shock to the royal family because of the father’s closeness with King Salman.
The recent crackdown is seen as another effort to consolidate power before the Crown Prince officially takes over from his ageing father King Salman. The crackdown on any kind of opposition to Crown Prince started in 2017 when hundreds of royal relatives and Saudi businessmen were locked up in a Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Following his demonstration of grip on power in 2017, Bin Salman gained notoriety in 2018 for presiding over the murder of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. In December last year, a Saudi court sentenced five people to death and prison term to three people in the case related to Khashoggi killing but exonerated Crown Prince’s inner circle.
Just after the verdict, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard lashed out at Saudi Arabia saying the “hitmen” were sentenced to death while the “masterminds” were barely touched by the investigation and the trial. She called it obstruction of justice and a violation of the Minnesota Protocol for the investigation of arbitrary killings.
Saudi’s controversial figure is also accused of hacking Amazon CEO’s Jeff Bezos phone. On January 22, two United Nations experts confirmed the report, by The Guardian, of hacking in a statement that read, “The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post's reporting on Saudi Arabia.”