Senior Saudi prince and former head of the National Guard, Miteb bin Abdullah, has been released after more than three weeks in detention on allegations of corruption.
Miteb, 65, was among dozens of other royal family members, ministers, and top businessmen, who were detained earlier this month in what the kingdom called an “anti-corruption purge”.
Among those detained are 11 princes, four ministers and several former ministers, in an unprecedented crackdown that has shaken the kingdom.
The allegations against them include money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, but the accusations could not be independently verified and family members of those detained could not be reached.
Miteb’s sister-in-law, Princess Nouf bint Abdullah, said on Twitter after his release: “Praise to be God … May you remain safe”.
His niece, Princess Abeer bint Abdullah, also commented on Twitter, saying : “Praise be to God … May God prolong your life with health and wellness and keep you with us”.
Miteb is the son of the late king Abdullah, and the cousin of the kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
The shake-up of the Saudi government came just months after King Salman replaced his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef with his son Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom’s crown prince.
Mohammed bin Salman has been responsible for pushing through a number of changes both at home and abroad since he became first in line to the Saudi crown.
The dramatic “anti-corruption purge” is the latest in a series of measures by the crown prince seen as a move to assert power over the country and its previous leaders.
A royal decree said the crackdown came in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to illicitly accrue money”.
Among those arrested was billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.
Saudi authorities said at least 208 people have also been questioned as part of a probe into theft of some $100-billion through fraud.
In a recent interview with New York Times, Mohammed bin Salman, said that the majority of the detainees have agreed to reach “settlements” for their release.
“We show them all the files that we have and as soon as they see those about 95 percent agree to a settlement,” bin Salman reportedly said.
After Miteb’s release, the US-based Bloomberg news website reported that he had agreed to reaching a settlement believed to exceed the equivalent of $1-billion, citing an anonymous source.
Also speaking to officials in the kingdom, the Reuters news agency said Saudi authorities were asking detainees to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.
The deals involve separating cash from assets, such as property and shares, and looking at bank accounts to assess cash values, one source told Reuters.
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi government on the deals, and the sources declined to be identified because the agreements are not public. — Al Jazeera