Saudi authorities have released brother of billionaire prince who was held for 11 months, according to social media posts by his immediate family.
Prince Khaled bin Talal had been missing since January and believed to have been in detention even though the Saudi state-run news agency did not have details on where he was held or for what reasons he was held.
On Friday his sons and niece posted photos of the prince with family, congratulating him on his ‘safe return.’
Prince Khaled is the brother of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal – one of the groups of royal family and businessmen who were held in the lavish Ritz Carlton in Riyadh last year as part of an anti-corruption purge.
Alwaleed, who Forbes estimated had a personal fortune of $17 billion, was released three months later. The group paid over $100 billion in settlements for what Saudi authorities said were corruption charges.
Critics outside Saudi Arabia have described the arrests as an oppressive tool by the Crown Prince to silence opposition to his leadership.
Saudis under scrutiny
Khaled’s release comes with Saudi being in the thick of backlash over Khashoggi’s death from the international community. The circumstances surrounding what was initially described as a disappearance and now confirmed as a murder of the journalist have deeply affected the Saudi government’s relationship with western powers. The Davos conference seriously suffered as a result.
The journalist was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.
Khashoggi, 59, a royal court insider-turned-critic, was killed after entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage to Turkish Hatice Cengiz.
Saudi officials have presented shifting stories about Khashoggi’s fate, initially denying any knowledge of his death, then arguing that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, was responsible for his killing.
But even as international powers put pressure on the Crown Prince to get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s murder, it’s unlikely to hurt his ascension to the throne, said Neil Quilliam, who directs the Future Dynamics in the Gulf project at the Chatham House think tank in London.
‘At most, in private, his wings will effectively be clipped,’ Quilliam said. ‘Some of these more ‘adventurous’ behaviors will be curtailed. Ultimately, that will be the kind of compromise reached.’