Saudi prince's detention 'breaks international law': British MPs

Former Saudi crown prince's detention 'breaks international law', investigation by British MPs finds
2 min read
17 December, 2020
An investigation conducted by British MPs says Prince Mohammed bin Nayef's detention endangers the security of the West.
Mohammed bin Nayef resigned as crown prince in July 2018 [Getty]

A cross-party panel of British MPs has found that the Saudi government's detention of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef is in breach of international law and weakens the security of the kingdom and the West.

The former heir to the Saudi throne was arrested in March. The panel found that he has lost weight and is "suffering from pains in his joints, particularly his knees, making it difficult for him to walk comfortably without assistance, and there is evidence of damage to his feet, adding to the pain in walking".

The panel added that evidence it looked at found "he has not been able to contest his detention before an independent and impartial judge, has no access to a lawyer to discuss his situation and his case has not been reviewed to determine whether it is appropriate to continue his detention," the Guardian reports.

Riyadh has reportedly refused to cooperate with the investigation despite a private meeting held with the Saudi ambassador to the UK. The panel's chairman, Conservative Party MP Crispin Blunt, is widely viewed as an ally to the Gulf Arab states.

Evidence was thus provided to the panel by Saudi dissidents, human rights groups and senior government officials, as well as allies of Bin Nayef.

Bin Nayef, 61, was arrested along with his elder brother, Prince Ahmed, in what is widely believed to be a move to consolidate the power and ascension of the current Crown Prince.

Saudi investigators allege that bin Nayef siphoned off billions of riyals through a number of front companies and private accounts when he led counter-terrorism programmes at the interior ministry.

Claims of corruption have been rejected by those close to him who said the accounts are standard procedures for funding counter-terrorism programmes.

Bin Nayef served as chief assistant to his father, then-Interior Minister Prince Nayef, as Washington's pointman in a crackdown on Al-Qaeda.

Bin Nayef, also known as MbN, was reportedly pressured into resigning his position as crown prince in 2017 by Prince Mohammed.

Moves have also been made against other Saudi royals.

In January 2018, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz was arrested alongside his father and has been held for close to three years without charge. Earlier this month, the prince was moved from detention in a guarded Riyadh villa to an "undisclosed location," according to European lawmaker Marc Tarabella.

The move marks an escalation in the detention of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, highlighting the Riyadh'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.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected