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Saudi authorities ordered the arrest of more than 200 people, including princes, ministers and billionaires, late last year.
Saudi authorities ordered the arrest of more than 200 people, including princes, ministers and billionaires, late last year.

Eleven Saudi Princes Detained After Protest

Online news website sabq.org said the princes had gathered at the Qasr a-Hokm, a historic royal palace, demanding the cancellation of a royal decree that stopped state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members

Eleven Saudi Princes Detained After Protest

Saudi authorities have detained 11 princes after they gathered at a royal palace in Riyadh in a rare protest against austerity measures that included suspending payment of their utility bills, Saudi media reported on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has introduced reforms that included cutting subsidies, introducing value added tax and cutting perks to royal family members to try to cope with a drop in crude prices that has caused a budget deficit estimated at 195 billion riyals in 2018, Reuters reported.
Online news website sabq.org said the princes had gathered at the Qasr a-Hokm, a historic royal palace, demanding the cancellation of a royal decree that stopped state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members.
Saudi officials did not respond immediately to a request for a comment on the report.
They were also demanding compensation for a death sentence issued against a relative, Sabq.org said.
“They were informed of the error of their demands, but they refused to leave Qasr al-Hokm,” Sabq said, quoting unidentified sources. “A royal order was issued to the royal guards ... to intervene and they were detained and put into al-Hayer prison in preparation to put them on trial.”
It gave no details on the identity of the princes but said the leader of the group had been identified by the initials S.A.S.
“Everybody is equal before the law and anyone who does not implement regulations and instructions will be held accountable, no matter who he is,” the website added.
Arabic-language Okaz daily carried a similar report.

  Call to Release Local Journalist
Meanwhile, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Saudi Arabia to release a local journalist who was reportedly arrested this week after criticizing the government.
Saudi activists and media reported that Saleh al-Shehi, a columnist for Arabic-language daily al-Watan, was detained on Wednesday over various articles and television appearances, including one in which he accused the royal court of corruption in distributing land.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has launched reforms over the past two years to foster economic diversity and cultural openness, ordered the arrest of more than 200 people, including princes, ministers and billionaires, last year. He said he was going after corruption but critics saw the move as a consolidation of power.
They were held at the five-star Ritz Hotel in the capital Riyadh while government officials negotiated financial settlements.
Resistance to his economic agenda and assertive foreign policy has been treated harshly, according to civil liberties monitors, who say freedom of expression is increasingly constrained.
“Despite promises of reform and moderation from Saudi Arabia’s emerging leadership, it is clear from Saleh al-Shehi’s arrest that repression as usual continues,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement late on Friday.
“Saudi authorities must release al-Shehi immediately, and Saudi leaders should ensure that the press is able to freely report on all issues of public interest.”
The government’s Center for International Communication did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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