A number of high-profile figures recently detained in Saudi Arabia have reportedly sustained serious injuries under beatings and torture amid an ongoing purge by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal cited sources inside the kingdom’s court as saying that former spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan was among the notable businessmen and royals being held.
According to the report, several of those subjected to physical abuse were taken to hospital with torture injuries. There are, however, no wounds to their faces so they will look normal when they appear next in public, it added.
Dozens of princes, ministers, and former ministers were detained on Saturday on the orders of Saudi Arabia’s so-called Anti-Corruption Committee headed by the crown prince.
Prince Bandar was a former Saudi ambassador to Washington and confidante of former US President George W. Bush.
The detained individuals are facing allegations of money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, and misappropriation of public funds for personal benefits.
The crackdown is believed to be a self-promotion campaign launched by the crown prince aimed at consolidating his power.
The MEE’s sources said the number of the arrestees actually stood at more than 500, and that twice that number had been questioned.
Also on Thursday, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said the authorities had questioned 208 people in the “anti-corruption investigation.” They estimated that “at least $100 billion” had been misused by the suspects through systematic graft and embezzlement over several decades.
Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday said seven princes had been released and moved to the king’s palace.
The kingdom also blocked the assets of the crown prince’s cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, who reportedly continues to be under house arrest.
Nayef was the crown prince until June when he was ousted by King Salman and replaced by his son.
The purge followed an earlier roundup of Muslim clerics, writers, economists, and public figures.
Saudi Arabia’s ailing 81-year-old monarch has been reportedly suffering from partial dementia and is said to be contemplating an abdication in favor of his son.
The entire crackdown has been interpreted as a purge against dissent before the crown prince’s rise to power.