West News Wire: Hundreds of Saudi officials have been jailed in a new claimed anti-corruption probe, according to claims that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is looking to get rid of potential heirs to the kingdom.
According to the English-language daily newspaper Saudi Gazette, 78 people were imprisoned on bribery, forgery, and money laundering accusations, citing the country’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha).
According to the investigation, the accused worked in the defense, interior, health, justice, education, municipal and rural affairs, and housing ministries.
The arrests were made after Nazaha authorities conducted 3,207 inspections, according to the Saudi Gazette. Another 116 officials were also investigated for other offences.
Ever since MBS became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.
In what is viewed as the biggest purge in the kingdom’s history, Saudi royals, billionaires, and senior government officials were tortured and blackmailed in November 2017, when they were rounded up and detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in an extraordinary power play by bin Salman to remove people who could potentially pose a political threat.
As many as 500 people were rounded up in the purge, which continued until 2019. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Saudi government targeted cash and assets worth up to $800 billion.
The purge was believed to be meant to consolidate the then-nascent rule of Crown Prince.
Former detainees and associates of several people caught up in the crackdown have said the detentions were arbitrary, lacking in any judicial process, and frequently targeted foes of the prince.
According to a source, the November 2017 round-up at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel “was about strengthening his (bin Salman) power, plain and simple,” and took place before the brutal murder of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
“Because he got away with it, he was able to do the latter.” “The same guards who were at the Ritz were there at the killing,” the insider claimed.
The majority were eventually released after making unspecified financial deals with the government.