• Saudi Princess Basmah, who is currently detained in a high-security prison in the kingdom, broke her 13-month silence to plead for freedom on Twitter last month.
  • She had sent a series of tweets asking her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to release her from al-Ha’ir prison, where she has been held since February 2019.
  • Since the tweets, the princess has had her communications with the outside world cut off, a close associate told Insider.
  • A member of her family previously told Insider that Basmah’s detention is an attempt to stop her from claiming part of a multi-billion euro inheritance from her father, the late King Saud.
  • Basmah’s family hopes the royal court will pardon her during the holy month of Ramadan, which runs between April 23 and May 23 this year.
  • The Saudi General Directorate for Prisons and the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Princess Basmah bint Saud al-Saud, a Saudi royal jailed on suspicion of fleeing the kingdom last year, has been cut off from the outside world after she broke a 13-month silence to publicly beg for mercy on Twitter.

On April 16, 2020, the Princess had sent a series of tweets begging Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – her cousin – to release her from the high-security prison where she is held.

It was the first anyone had heard from her since she was abducted from her home in Jeddah, a western port city, in February 2019.

She and her daughter Suhoud, were seized and imprisoned. They are now housed in the same prison but in separate rooms.

"I have done no wrong," Basmah had tweeted in April. "I am currently being arbitrarily held at al-Ha'ir prison without criminal, or otherwise any charges against my person."

This outburst has cost her the privilege of contact with the outside world, a close associate of the princess told Insider. The source asked to remain anonymous to avoid retribution but their identity is known to Insider.

Designer Max Azria and Princess Basmah Bint Saud, of Saudi Arabia, pose together before the BCBG MAX AZRIA Spring 2013 collection is shown at Fashion Week in New York, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012

Foto: Basmah and fashion designer Max Azria at New York Fashion week on September 6, 2012. Source: Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP Images

"Since the tweets, they cut off her contact. She is not able to call anymore," the associate said.

"Before, there was a weekly call, one from Basmah and one from her daughter."

The associate did not say whether communication from Suhoud, Basmah's daughter, had also been cut.

The source also said that shortly after the tweets were posted, Basmah's account was hacked and all her April tweets were deleted.

It took two weeks to restore access to the account, the source said. Her pleas were re-posted on April 27.

Princess Basmah's official website was also taken down around the same time the tweets were removed. The site remains offline.

Saudi Arabia's General Directorate for Prisons and the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment on Basmah's condition.

In her tweets, Basmah had revealed she was being kept in al-Ha'ir prison, a high-security facility near Riyadh usually reserved for terrorists.

Last month, a close family member told Insider: "I spoke with her [Basmah] twice or three times a week. It is monitored. I have not seen her, not a picture, nor video, for more than a year. Nothing can be passed on."

The family member also wished to remain anonymous to avoid retribution. Their identity is also known to Insider.

MBS has gone to great lengths for loyalty

At sporadic intervals since 2017, members of the extended Saudi royal family have been rounded up and urged to fall into line with Crown Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS.

There are some 15,000 descendants of King Abdulaziz, the nation's founder, but only 200 or so have any apparent influence or access to the kingdom's vast wealth.

Basmah is one of Crown Prince Mohammed's hundreds of cousins and holds no posts in the Saudi royal family. However, she is well-known internationally for her human-rights advocacy.

The crown prince's crackdown on royals began in 2017 after King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - the crown prince's father - ousted Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince, and replaced him with Crown Prince Mohammed.

He has since become the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Princess Basmah Princess Basmah bint Saud, a daughter of the second king of Saudi Arabia, speaking at the Oxford Union in 2013.

Foto: Basmah speaking at the Oxford Union in 2013. Source: Oxford Union/YouTube

In October 2017, more than 100 royals were detained in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, with some stripped of their assets, placed on travel bans, urged to invest their wealth in Saudi Arabia, or placed under house arrest.

Almost all of those targeted in the last three years are men, except for Basmah, a longtime advocate for human rights and women's rights.

The crown prince will see you now

Basmah disappeared on February 28, 2019, while preparing to travel to Switzerland for routine medical care.

A $87,000 chartered flight that had flown from Geneva to Riyadh, and was ready to ferry her back in March, had missed its runway slot.

The princess was reported missing.

It turned out that Basmah and her daughter, Suhoud, were escorted from their Jeddah apartment by at least eight heavy-set men in western dress.

The men identified themselves as officials at the Saudi royal court, and said they were there to bring her to Crown Prince Mohammed, who had sent for her, Basmah's family member and associate previously told Insider.

After the capture, Basmah was accused of procuring a fake passport and suspected of trying to flee the kingdom, the close family member told Insider. Basmah's family denies the claims, and says the charges were quietly dropped when she was in prison.

The sources told Insider last month that Basmah's imprisonment is an attempt by a hostile faction in the royal court to deter her from seeking to claim her part of a multi-billion euro inheritance from the late King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

King Saud was Basmah's father and uncle of King Salman, the father of Crown Prince Mohammed.

Basmah still gun saudi

Foto: A still from a security tape obtained by Spanish newspaper ABC showing men waiting for Basmah at her penthouse in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on February 28, 2019. Source: ABC

A Ramadan release?

It is not known if Crown Prince Mohammed or King Salman are aware of Basmah's detention. A letter Basmah wrote to King Salman - a copy of which was reviewed by Insider - has not received a response. It is not clear when the letter was sent.

The chances she will be released seem slim. However, her family hopes she may be granted mercy during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which began April 23 and ends May 23 this year.

Every Ramadan, King Salman pardons hundreds of criminals as a show of good will. However, some offenses are ineligible for release, and include identity theft and fraud, of which Basmah was initially accused.

"We are not expecting this to happen," Basmah's close associate told Insider, referring to the release.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 23: Princess Basmah Bint Saud attends 2016 Trumpet Awards at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on January 23, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/WireImage)

Foto: Basmah at the 2016 Trumpet Awards in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 23, 2016. Source: Paras Griffin/WireImage

Debilitating health issues but denied medical help

One issue making a swift release more pressing is the fact that the princess has long been beset with health issues.

She has a colonic condition, heart issues, and osteoporosis.

"My health is deteriorating to an extent that is [severe], and that could lead to my death," Basmah said in the tweets directed to Crown Prince Mohammed on April 16.

Before contact was cut off, members of Basmah's family were told that cases of the coronavirus had been reported in al-Ha'ir prison. Research has shown that those with underlying medical issues are more likely to die if they contract the virus.

"The doctors told her they cannot cure her conditions. For the past month they have not been sending doctors," the family member told Insider last month, adding that this treatment suggests her captors are hoping her death will close the matter.

"The medication she has taken from 20 years, they have not provided for her. What they're trying to do is show that she [will] die all by herself."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has asked the Saudi Foreign Ministry for Basmah's release, but are yet to receive a reply, according to Basmah's family member and associate, who approached the group on March 5, 2020.

A spokesperson for the working group told Insider: "Due to the confidentiality of the proceedings we are not in a position to comment."