Saudi Arabia 'Tortured' Elite Prisoners To Seize Their Wealth


The New York Times (NYT) added weight to the more cynical interpretation of the anti-corruption drive on Sunday by reporting that a "large sector of Saudi Arabia's movers and shakers are living in fear and uncertainty".

According to the newspaper, the 17 detainees were hospitalised after facing abuse, while one Saudi general died in custody. Even wives and children have been forbidden to travel.

Now, nearly two months after the purge officially came to an end, The New York Times has released a report, echoing claims made by the MEE in November.

Various analyses of the crackdown viewed it as a necessary step for Saudi Arabia to streamline its famously inefficient government, a desperate clawback of resources appropriated by self-indulgent members of the huge royal family, a vital step in persuading global investors to put money into a dramatically reformed economy, a bid by the crown prince to weaken his rivals before he assumes the throne, or all of the above.

A final decision will be made by Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees the kingdom's economic and oil policies.

To leave the Ritz, numerous detainees not only surrendered huge sums of money, but also signed over to the government control of precious real estate and shares of their companies - all outside any clear legal process.

In an article published Monday, The New York Times wrote that, according to officials, royals and various associates of those who had been detained in the luxury hotel, the crackdown was in fact a, "coercive operation, marked by cases of physical abuse".

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The report alleges al-Qahtani's "neck was twisted unnaturally as though it had been broken" and his body also had burn marks, which were believed to be a result of electric shocks.

Major General al-Qahtani was an aide to the son of the late Saudi King Abdullah.

One former detainee, forced to wear a tracking device, has sunk into depression as his business collapses.

Saudi officials approached by the Times over the allegation said: "All allegations of abuse and torture of those investigated during the anti-corruption proceedings are absolutely untrue".

Saudi King Salman's order to establish new anti-corruption units as part of the kingdom's anti-graft campaign comes as fresh revelations have emerged of how detainees swept up in the campaign were treated and where their assets have gone.

The kingdom has never publicly provided an explanation of the general's death.