On 1 February 2016, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Turki al-Saud planned to travel from Paris to Cairo. Prior to his departure, he spoke with a friend who recalled the conversation to reporters, “last call we had he was laughing and said as a joke ‘I am supposed to come to Cairo this week by royal aircraft. If you didn’t find me they have taken me to Riyadh. Try to do something.” Prince Turki never arrived in Cairo. He is now the third Saudi Prince to reportedly have been kidnapped by Kingdom officials.
Only circumstantial evidence exists, linking the Government of Saudi Arabia to the reports of missing members of the royal family. However, members of the royal family have faced discrimination for publically declaring their opinions in contrast to their government. Prince Turki’s father is presently in exile for alleged disagreements with Kingdom officials. Almost a year ago, Prince Turki began legal proceedings against the Saudi government for their alleged forceful repatriation of the Prince in 2003.Swiss prosecutor Stéphane Grodecki filed a complaint in Geneva, citing that Prince Turki was beaten unconscious and transferred to Riyadh after a discussion with his cousin in Switzerland. Fellow royal family members reciprocated the prince’s discontent with his government.
In a similar fashion, Prince Turki bin Bandar al-Saud criticized the government and became an advocate for nonviolent political reform. After vowing to “tell-all,” he went missing in July 2015 while traveling to Morocco on business and has yet to be seen or heard from since. His cousin, Prince Saud bin Said al-Nasr al-Saud criticized the Saudi government for corruption over twitter in 2014. When Prince bin Saud bin Said al-Nasr al-Saud expanded upon his criticism in September 2015, he was reported to have been kidnapped days after. None of the three princes have been seen or heard from since their disappearance and alleged kidnappings.
Saudi Arabia continues to receive attention for silencing public dissent in the Kingdom. No one is immune as the government silences all those who dare express an unfavorable opinion of the monarchy. The alleged kidnappings and disappearances of dissenting members of the royal family provide further evidence that the Kingdom refuses to tolerate political opinion and continues to criminalize free speech.
William Jay is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB