Saudi Arabia Releases Corruption Detainees, Others to Stand Trial

The Ritz-Carlton in RiyadhThe Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia has released 23 of the 200-or-so powerful individuals detained since November on corruption charges after they reached deals with the government, Okaz newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The report did not name those involved in what appeared to be the first large-scale release since the royals, business people and government officials were detained in a crackdown spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (aka MBS), Reuters reported.

The suspects have been held at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel since early November and told to hand over assets and cash in exchange for their freedom.

Okaz said more detainees would be released in the coming days and trial proceedings would begin soon for those who continue to deny the charges against them.

Saudi authorities see the settlements not as blackmail but as an obligation to reimburse money taken illegally from the world’s top oil producer over several decades.

  Full Lamb Dish Day and Night

Video posted on social media showed a smiling Saoud al-Daweesh, the former chief executive of Saudi Telecom, telling well-wishers he had been treated decently.

“Private Affairs (a unit of the royal court) brought us a full lamb dish day and night. They treated us well and did a good job,” he said.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported in November that mercenaries purportedly employed by Academi, a successor to infamous US mercenary army Blackwater, have been stringing up some of MBS’s “guests” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton by their feet and savagely beating them during interrogations.

Middle East Monitor reported on Tuesday that sources close to Saudi Arabia’s opposition abroad have questioned the death of a Saudi royal brigadier, Ali bin Abdullah al-Jarash al-Qahtani.

It is believed the officer died as a result of torture at the hands of interrogators at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. He had been arrested on charges of corruption linked to the sons of the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

Official reports that al-Qahtani died from a sudden stroke have been dismissed, especially as his sons did not declare the real reason behind their father’s death, nor did they deny reports of his torture.


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