Saudi Prince Khaled bin Talal freed from detention

Riyadh has not offered a public explanation Prince Khaled's arrest nor his release.

    Prince Khaled was reportedly detained after he criticised the November crackdown [File: Reuters]
    Prince Khaled was reportedly detained after he criticised the November crackdown [File: Reuters]

    Saudi Prince Khaled bin Talal, a nephew of King Salman, has been released after almost a year in detention, according to his relatives.

    Princess Reem bint Alwaleed, Prince Khaled's niece, and two other relatives shared photos on Twitter on Friday showing the prince embracing his son, who has been in a coma for several years, and other family members.

    "Thank god for your safety," the princess wrote on Twitter.

    The Saudi government has not offered an official explanation for Prince Khaled's arrest nor the conditions of his release.

    Prince Khaled's brother, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, was among more than 200 princes and other senior figures detained at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel over corruption allegations in November last year.

    Prince Khaled's release comes as the kingdom faces international pressure over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

    "The killing of Jamal Khashoggi has left the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its weakest diplomatic position since the horrific terror attacks of September 11," Ali Shihabi, head of the Arabia Foundation think-tank, a pro-Saudi institution, wrote in a report published on Friday.

    "In the aftermath of the understandable global outrage at the Khashoggi murder, something will clearly have to give."

    Shihabi called for the release of "women activists and other moderate critics of the government" who have been detained in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's widely condemned crackdown on dissent in recent months.

    November crackdown

    According to the Wall Street Journal, Prince Khaled, Prince Alwaleed's brother, was detained for 11 months for criticising the November crackdown.

    Prince Alwaleed was released in early January after an undisclosed financial agreement with the government.

    It appeared similar to deals that authorities struck with most other detainees in exchange for their freedom.

    The government critics said the crackdown was an attempt by the crown prince to sideline his potential rivals and consolidate power.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies