US mercenaries are allegedly torturing Saudi royals and businessmen arrested during the anti-corruption purge ordered by Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.
American private security contractors, previously known as Blackwater – now operating under the name Academi – have been put in charge of interrogation. The source revealed to the British newspaper, the Daily Mail that US mercenaries, who gained notoriety following the 2003 Iraq invasion for human rights violations and abuse, are "beating and torturing" prominent Saudi royals including Al-Waleed Bin Talal.
"All the guards in charge are private security because Mohamed Bin Salman doesn't want Saudi officers there who have been saluting those detainees all their lives," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
"Outside the hotels where they are being detained you see the armoured vehicles of the Saudi special forces. But inside, it's a private security company," the source added.
"They've transferred all the guys [mercenaries] from Abu Dhabi. Now they are in charge of everything," continued the source.
It was also alleged that Bin Salman often conducted the interrogations himself. "When it's something big he asks them questions," the source said.
"He speaks to them very nicely in the interrogation, and then he leaves the room, and the mercenaries go in. The prisoners are slapped, insulted, hung up, tortured."
It was also alleged that the Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal was hung upside down "just to send a message".
Since Bin Salman authorised the anti-corruption purge earlier this month, a number of prominent Saudi business man and royals were put under arrest and told to give 70 per cent of their wealth in exchange for their freedom. More than 2,000 bank accounts have also been frozen in attempt to seize billions of dollars.
It is widely suspected that Bin Salman's anti-corruption purge is part of a broad strategy to raise money for the country's depleting treasury, which has grappled with a recession triggered by prolonged low oil prices.
Concerns over the crackdown have been further exacerbated by reports that the detainees are being tortured by US mercenaries.