RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — A Saudi prince detained in a guarded villa in Riyadh without any formal charges has been moved to an “undisclosed location,” a European lawmaker said in a letter seen by AFP Wednesday.
The move marks an escalation in the nearly three-year detention of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, highlighting the kingdom’s defiance against international pressure for his release even as US President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration could intensify scrutiny of its human rights record.
In January 2018, Prince Salman, now 37, was swept up along with his father in a wide-ranging crackdown, leaving his supporters asking why the minor royal who posed no apparent challenge to powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was targeted.
Prince Salman, educated at Paris’ Sorbonne University, and his father were held in solitary confinement for around a year in the high-security Al-Hai’r prison near Riyadh and later in a guarded villa in the capital, two sources close to him said.
The prince was moved to a secret detention site in March but was mysteriously returned two months later to the villa, which is under high security surveillance, the sources said, after a $2 million US lobbying effort and petitions from European lawmakers calling for his release.