MBS releases former official in settlement 'worth billions'
Saudi Arabia's former president of protocol at the Royal Court, Mohammed al-Tubaishi, who was detained early November as part of an ongoing purge against leading princes and businessmen in the kingdom, was released from the Ritz-Carlton hotel after a deal with the state, The New Arab learned on Tuesday.
Al-Tubaishi, who was not known to own any businesses in the kingdom, was freed from detention on Tuesday in a settlement said to be worth 6 billion riyals.
Authorities questioned al-Tubaishi’s wealth and assets, which includes a famous ranch named Samarra said to be worth 400 million riyals and was built by the state during the the reign of the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz north of Riyadh.
The former official was sacked after physically hitting a press photographer during a meeting between Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and his Moroccan counterpart, King Mohammed VI.
The release comes just hours after authorities freed Prince Mutaib Al Saud, son of the late king Abdullah and former minister of the National Guard, who was also detained as part of the crown prince's ongoing purge.
Holding sway over the powerful agency, Mutaib had been touted in the past as possible future king of Saudi Arabia, before his ambitions were derailed after his father's death and the rise of King Salman, father of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He was reportedly held at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh along with a number of leading princes and businessmen on allegations of 'corruption' on November 4.
MBS's critics say the campaign amounts to a power grab by the ambitious crown prince targeting his rivals in the royal family and the establishment.
The prince's sister, Princess Basma bint Abdullah, confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying Mutaib had been let go at noon.
MBS's purge began early in November hours after an anti-graft commission headed by bin Salman himself was set up.
More than 30 figures have been taken into custody at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh including Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men, and two of late king Abdullah's sons, including Mutaib.
Analysts say Prince Mutaib's detention was meant to sideline his influence over the security apparatus that could hinder MBS's ascension to the throne, as well as confiscate billions of dollars from his personal wealth.
Saudi Arabia has not yet issued statements to confirm the release of any detainees.