Saudi princess says she’s in prison and poor health

A Saudi princess posted on social media this week that she has been held in prison with her daughter and pleaded to be released for medical reasons.

Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud attends a discussion at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, D.C., on April 12, 2017. Michael Reynolds

Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, 56, the outspoken daughter of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz, who ruled the country from 1953-64, appealed to her uncle, King Salman and cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to be freed.

“I am currently being arbitrarily held at Al-Ha’ir prison without criminal, or otherwise any charges against my person,” the princess said on her official Twitter account. “My health is deteriorating to an extent that is serve, and that could lead to my death.”

A former business partner of the princess confirmed the tweets Thursday and said someone hacked into her account and deleted them.


The princess and her daughter were taken into custody last March when they tried to leave Saudi Arabia for Switzerland. She said at the time she needed urgent medical treatment.

Al-Saud has been known for years to support progressive causes, which were seen as controversial in Saudi Arabia. She called for women’s rights, reforms during the Arab Spring and changing how the country is run from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

“The arrest of a Saudi princess should come as no surprise,” said Rothna Begum, senior women’s rights researcher at the humanitarian watchdog Human Rights Watch. “Princess Basmah has been openly critical of the country’s women’s rights record in the past and her arrest shows that no woman, no matter her background, is untouchable if she is deemed to be a potential threat.”

ByClyde Hughes