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Saudi under pressure to release jailed prince, his father

Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud [Europa europa/YouTube}
Saudi Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud, 3 June 2016 [Europa europa/YouTube}

Saudi Arabia has been facing growing international pressure to release a Saudi philanthropist prince and his father who have been detained for nearly two years without trial.

The international pressure is led by a $2 million US lobbying campaign and petitions sent by European parliamentarians to the Saudi regime calling on them to release Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz and his father, who have been jailed since January 2018.

Prince Salman, 37, is known for having no interest in politics, focusing instead on his philanthropic work including funding development projects in poor countries.

A European Parliament delegation visited Saudi Arabia in February and called on Saudi authorities to release all detained royals including Prince Salman, AFP reported.

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The agency said Marc Tarabella, vice chairman of the parliament’s delegation for relations with the Arab peninsula has called on the European Commission to appeal to the highest authorities in Saudi Arabia to release the jailed prince, noting that the European Parliament has already asked for information about the case in a letter sent to the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman but it has not received a reply.

“I remain confident that the release would positively impact the relations of the European Parliament with Saudi Arabia,” he wrote to the European Commission.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that leading Washington lobbyist Robert Stryk’s Sonoran Policy Group signed a $2 million contract in May to advocate for the prince’s release “with the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the European Union”.

An associate of the prince described the prince’s arrest and detention as “daylight kidnapping” and “forced disappearance”.

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According to reports, Saudi authorities moved the prince to a secret detention site in March, after jailing him for nearly a year in the high-security Al-Ha’ir prison near Riyadh and later in a private villa with his father. However, last week, he was mysteriously returned to the villa to be reunited with his father.

AFP said his return may be a “tentative sign” that international pressure for his release is working.

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