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Exclusive: Macron intervenes in case of detained Saudi prince

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to journalists before entering the meeting hall during the EU Leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, 28 June 2018 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]
French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels, Belgium, 28 June 2018 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

The family of two detained and forcibly disappeared Saudi Arabian princes has expressed its concerns over their fate, following the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. French President Emmanuel Macron has also intervened.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Mohammad Al Saud and his son Salman have been detained since January because of the young prince’s views on leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Their family members have expressed grave concern about the fate of the two princes because they have not heard any news about them since they were summoned to the Royal Palace 10 months ago.

Detention and forced disappearance

A Saudi source revealed details about the disappearance of Salman, saying that on 4 January, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, known as “Salman Ghazalan,” was summoned to the Royal Palace, after midnight. He was there beaten and arrested and then disappeared without providing news about his fate.

Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud

Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud

This came after the arrest of 11 young princes from the ruling palace in Riyadh, after they demonstrated inside against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, because of what was promoted by pro-government Saudi media and electronic battalions, as an objection against electricity and water bills, in a story that raised widespread scepticism among oppositionists of bin Salman.

At that time, the well-known Twitter activist “Mujtahidd” said that the princes’ objection came in protest against bin Salman’s policies and rejection of the coup against the former crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef who was put under house arrest.

Prince “Ghazalan” was not among the princes who were arrested from the ruling palace.

Following the disappearance of Prince Salman and the interview with the source, bin Salman’s special Saudi forces, known as Al-Saif Al-Ajrab Brigade, stormed the house of Ghazalan’s father, and arrested him as well, without talking about his fate to date.

About ten months after that incident, Prince Ghazalan and his father have not been released. They have not been charged or brought to trial, either. There has been no official admission of the existence of the prince or his father with the Saudi authorities, and their location of detention is still unknown.

The family of Salman Ghazalan fears that the young prince will face the same fate of Khashoggi, who was assassinated in his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in early October, especially that Riyadh admitted the ruling members’ involvement in the assassination.

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The lawyer and the family of the two princes’ have confirmed that there was no corruption suspicion against them and stressed that they had been detained because they expressed their opinions.

Jealousy

The Washington Post had previously quoted sources close to the royal palace as saying that they did not know the real reason for the detention of the young prince, but they pointed out to an extreme “state of jealousy” that bin Salman has towards him. Prince Salman Ghazalan is considered as an internationally renowned figure and a more modern and distinguished young man than the Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (L) and Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud

The sources said that Prince Ghazalan has charisma. He is tall, handsome, and proficient in three languages. He also holds a doctorate in law from the French Sorbonne.

He is also a cultured and distinguished man, presenting an enhanced image of Saudi culture throughout Europe. He has been in contact with the most important political elites and leaders in the continent, especially France, where he enjoys great recognition.

Prince Salman was born on July 24, 1980, and is known as “Ghazalan”, though his full name is Prince Mohammed bin Saud bin Faisal bin Turki Al Saud.

His mother is Princess Nouf bint Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Faisal bin Turki Al Saud. Her father, Abdullah, is the younger brother of King Abdulaziz, founder of the kingdom.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud

The young prince graduated from King Saud University after studying law. He completed his postgraduate studies at Oxford University and completed his Master’s degree in international law at Saint Clement University where he received a doctorate degree at the French Sorbonne University.

He is also the founder of “Movers Club,” which aims to bring young leaders of the world together in a single platform, to share knowledge, ideas and information, to build networks and communication, to promote meaningful relationships and facilitate cultural exchange.

The young prince participated in many art events in Europe and supported the activities of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris to promote relations between Europe and Saudi Arabia.

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He was also awarded a medal from the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is also fond of camel racing and was the initiator of the Camel Race, which was first held in France in 2011.

It also appears that Salman Ghazalan has started to catch the attention of the Saudi public, especially young people. A video of part of his wedding took over half a million views on YouTube when it was released six years ago.

The wedding of Prince Salman Ghazalan was attended by King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the French ambassador in Riyadh.

The passport of Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud

This distinction for Prince Ghazalan led The Washington Post to argue that he is a good and suitable alternative for Bin Salman if he was overthrown following the crisis of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

The website also included a copy of the diplomatic passport of Prince Salman and other pictures with Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the Saudi monarchy and Western figures, including President Macron.

French intervention

Following this disappearance, France intervened in April with the Saudi authorities to find out the fate of the young prince.

The New Khalij has obtained a copy of a letter from written by the representative of the Salman Ghazalan family and sent to French President Macron.

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The Elysee Palace letter issued on April 20, 2018, and signed on behalf of the director of the Bureau of French President François Xavier Locke, said that the French presidency is following the latest developments in the case.

Letter by French President Emmanuel Macron issuing direct order to transfer the case file of Saudi Prince Salman Ghazlan to the French Foreign Minister

Letter by French President Emmanuel Macron issuing a direct order to transfer the case file of Saudi Prince Salman Ghazlan to the French Foreign Minister

Locke promised the family of the disappeared princes to collaborate and work to help them in the cause of the unknown fate of their relatives.

The letter reveals that Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will communicate and cooperate with them in the issue.

According to the letter, Macron issued a direct order to transfer the case file to the French Foreign Minister.

Earlier, sources said Prince Salman Ghazlan and Macron were friends. The young prince was a link between Riyadh, and Paris and played a role in arranging the French president’s visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2017, although he did not hold any official position in the Kingdom.

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