- Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud has been freed after spending nearly three years in jail.
- The princess was detained in early 2019 while en route to Switzerland to receive medical treatment.
- It’s unclear why she was detained, but her family thinks it’s because of her outspokenness.
Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was released from jail after spending three years in a high-security facility, a human-rights organization said on Saturday.
“Basma bint Saud Al Saud and her daughter Suhoud, detained since March 2019, have been released,” reads a tweet from ALSQT for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in Saudi Arabia.
—ALQST for Human Rights (@ALQST_En) January 8, 2022
Representatives for the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and ALQST for Human Rights did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The princess, 57, and her daughter were suddenly detained in early 2019 while en route to Switzerland to receive medical treatment for an unknown health condition. Princess Basmah and her daughter were never charged with a crime according to Henri Estrament, a legal advisor to the royal’s family who spoke with The New York Times on Sunday.
Before her arrest, Princess Basmah had reportedly sought to travel abroad for medical treatment and was “accused of trying to forge a passport,” a relative said at the time, according to Reuters.
It’s unclear why the princess was detained, but her family has speculated that it’s likely due to her outspokenness on humanitarian issues, according to the BBC. Her family in 2020 wrote a letter to the United Nations arguing that her “record as an outspoken critic of abuses” likely spurred the detention. Her family also previously told Insider that they believe her detention was an attempt to stop her from claiming part of a multi-billion euro inheritance from her father, the late King Saud.
While held in the al-Ha’ir Prison, Princess Basmah took to Twitter to beg Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, her cousin, to release her in May 2020.
After the tweets, the princess was forbidden to make contact with her family, a close associate of the Saudi royal previously told Insider. The last time the family had heard from her was in May 2021, when she called her son Ahmed al-Sharif from prison, a business associate and a close family member of the princess told Insider. According to Insider’s sources, in the conversation, Princess Basmah had mentioned a will but before she could get into more specific details, the call got cut off.
ALQST for Human Rights said on Twitter that she had been “denied the medical care she needed for a potentially life-threatening condition” while in jail. “At no point during her detention has any charge been levelled against her,” the group added.
Estrament told the Times that it was unclear whether Princess Basmah would be permitted to travel internationally to receive medical treatment.
“We are pleased that the royal court and M.B.S. [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] acquiesced to release them both,” Estramant said. “It is a good sign as the country continues its process to develop the rule of law.”