Elation at Princess Basmah’s Release

Last week, after almost three years in prison, Princess Basmah bint Saud Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and her daughter Suhoud were thankfully released from imprisonment and were able to return to their home in Jeddah. We are hugely grateful to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for listening to the appeals on her behalf and responding in this positive way.

In March 2019, Princess Basmah was arrested just before she was set to travel to Switzerland for medical treatment and was taken to the maximum-security prison at Al-Ha’ir. Her arrest was for attempting to travel outside the country without permission.

The Princess has often expressed her view that democracy is an important pillar of the world order. Nevertheless, she has still continually maintained her loyalty to the Royal Family. Princess Basmah has attracted notice in Saudi Arabia, not only for her pro-democratic sentiments but also her activism for human rights, particularly the rights of women. Ironically, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman has adopted many of the ideas that the Princess has previously championed.

For much of her imprisonment, Princess Basmah was completely cut off from the outside world. The charges she was initially held under were tenuous and were at any rate dropped soon after she was arrested. She was also not allowed to have access to a lawyer or allowed to defend herself in a trial. Her case is sadly not unique. A number of dissidents, critics of the government, and human rights activists, have been arrested.

The NCF Comments:

Princess Basmah is a friend and collaborator of the Next Century Foundation. The campaign for her release was important to us and we have been very eager to help in any way we can. We are thus profoundly overjoyed at the news of her release and very much wish her and her daughter good health in the coming year.

It is encouraging to see the Saudi Arabian government responding to the outcry at Princess Basmah’s imprisonment and the Next Century Foundation would like to express our gratitude to the King of Saudi Arabia for his actions in this matter.

Permitting dissent, protecting freedom of speech, and upholding the rule of law are fundamental to properly functioning states. It is hoped that Princess Basmah’s release represents a more positive direction for Saudi Arabia, a direction where the country is more co-operative with others and more tolerant of views that challenge the status quo. It is sincerely hoped that those in Saudi Arabia who are in a similar situation to Princess Basmah are given similar treatment. The era of arbitrary arrest needs to end.

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