Saudi prince released from prison

Saudi prince released from prison

A prominent Saudi prince was released from prison and speculated that other high-ranking prisoners will be released as the royal family seeks to strengthen his reputation following the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

Khaled bin Talal al-Saud, a nephew of King Salman, returned to Riyadh on Saturday, according to his family's social media posts.

His sister and niece posted photos of him on Twitter titled "Thank God for Your Safety," a generic term used when a person returns.

Prince Khaled is a brother of billionaire investor Alwaleed bin Talal, who was temporarily imprisoned by the government a year ago in an anti-corruption campaign. These arrests were widely viewed as a political purge rather than an attempt to eradicate corruption in the kingdom. Prince Khaled was arrested in a second wave of arrests.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come under considerable pressure since the killing of Khashoggi in Turkey during an operation allegedly carried out by some of his closest aides.

Saudi Arabia is trying to build bridges with its allies as the kingdom is experiencing its worst foreign policy crisis since the 9/11 attacks.

Prince Mohammed could release other royal men and businessmen imprisoned in the coming days, said a person who was taught about the family's thinking.

The amnesty, the person added, could be extended to clerics and activists imprisoned under the increasingly authoritarian rule of Prince Mohammed.

"He's trying to build support in the family," said an observer in Riyadh.

The release of Prince Khaled occurred a few days after the return of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the king's full brother, from self-imposed exile in London, where he had criticized the steps taken by Riyadh, including the war in Yemen.

Insiders say movements within the ruling family are an attempt to install a more in-depth government structure around Prince Mohammed, who has consolidated power since his father took the throne in 2015.

Turkish officials blamed Khashoggi's death on a cadre of Saudi officials. Riyadh initially refused the responsibility, but has since conducted his own investigation on the basis of evidence that the operation was deliberate and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

The government has denied that Prince Mohammed knew of the operation, but the proximity of the suspects to the Crown Prince's inner circle raises questions about his guilt or, at best, his ignorance of the affairs of a runaway royal court.

Members of the royal family were furious with last year's purges that destroyed decades of consensual rule by humiliating high-ranking royals and powerful business magnates who were imprisoned at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Dozens of princes, businessmen, and ministers were released after signing cash and assets to settle the alleged financial charges to the government, but many were still severely restricted in their ability to move freely, including the promotion of ankle tags.

Some were sent to jail where they could be brought to justice. Others were kept in safe houses while negotiations on their financial settlements continued.

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