In another effort to consolidate power, Saudi authorities detained three members of the royal family including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s brother and nephew. According to US media reports, the monarch’s brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef were accused of treason.
The Crown Prince's recent efforts to bring social reforms gained attention but his crackdown on any kind of opposition has tarnished his image. The arrest of members of the royal family is the latest case of power consolidation after Bin Salman locked up hundreds of royal relatives and Saudi businessmen in a Ritz-Carlton hotel in 2017.
Following his demonstration of grip on power, 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.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancee, also reportedly said that the execution of five people would further conceal the truth because the reason behind the murder is still not out. Cengiz, in a statement, said that if the people sentenced to death get executed without giving them a chance to explain the reason behind the murder, the truth behind the murder would never come out.
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."
(With agency inputs)