Aide to Mohammed bin Salman ‘supervised torture of female prisoner’

A high aide to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, fired for his position within the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, personally oversaw the torture of at the least one detained feminine activist earlier this 12 months, two sources with data of the matter mentioned.

Saud al-Qahtani was a royal adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman till October, when he was sacked after which sanctioned by the US Treasury over the Washington Publish columnist’s homicide.

Now three sources, briefed on the activists’ remedy, say a gaggle of males subjected this girl and at the least three others to sexual harassment, electrocution and flogging between Might and August at an unofficial holding facility in Jeddah.

They described the group of about six males as distinct from the common interrogators the ladies noticed and mentioned they belonged to the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, which Mr Qahtani headed on the time, or to state safety.

Mr Qahtani was current when at the least one of many ladies was tortured, two of the sources mentioned.

Reuters has been unable to succeed in Mr Qahtani since he was sacked in October.

Portraits of Saudi King Salman (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) are displayed in Riyadh Credit score: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Photos

A Saudi official mentioned the allegations of mistreatment and torture of the female detainees have been “false … and don’t have any connection to the reality.”

“The detainees have been detained primarily based on accusations associated to harming the safety and stability of the dominion,” the official mentioned in response to questions from Reuters.

Their authorized rights have been being revered and so they have been receiving medical and social care, household visits and had the proper to an lawyer, the official mentioned.

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The ladies are amongst greater than a dozen distinguished activists arrested since Might amid a broader crackdown focusing on clerics and intellectuals. Eleven ladies are nonetheless being held, activists say, together with the 4 alleged to have been tortured.

The allegations come as Riyadh tries to get previous the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi, a long-time royal insider who grew to become a critic of Prince Mohammed and went into self-exile in america final 12 months.

Khashoggi was killed inside the dominion’s Istanbul consulate, damaging the crown prince’s popularity and opening Riyadh as much as the specter of sanctions.

Amnesty Worldwide and Human Rights Watch mentioned final month at the least three of the activists — most of whom had agitated for the proper to drive and an finish to a male guardianship system — have been tortured. They didn’t report Mr Qahtani’s involvement.

The sources, who requested to not be recognized for worry of reprisals, advised Reuters that Mr Qahtani was within the room on a number of events when one of many 4 detained activists was subjected to kissing, groping and electrocution. He made threats of rape and homicide to the girl, the sources mentioned.

At the very least two different detainees endured sexual insults, flogging and electrical shocks that turned one of many ladies’s fingers blue, the sources mentioned. Captors additionally made one other girl kiss a male detainee whereas they watched, one of many sources mentioned.

Reuters couldn’t decide whether or not Mr Qahtani was within the room through the episodes with these three different detainees, however the sources mentioned all the ladies’s tormentors have been from “Saud’s group”.

A 3rd supply mentioned Mr Qahtani addressed a number of of those ladies in Might once they have been initially transferred to Jeddah from Riyadh, telling them the penalty for treason was 20 years in jail or the dying penalty. 

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