RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has released 23 of the 200-or-so powerful individuals detained since November on corruption charges after they reached deals with the government, Okaz newspaper reported yesterday. The report did not name those involved in what appeared to be the first large-scale release since the royals, business people and government officials were detained in a crackdown spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The suspects have been held at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel since early November and told to hand over assets and cash in exchange for their freedom. Video posted on social media showed a smiling Saoud Al-Daweesh, the former chief executive of Saudi Telecom, telling well-wishers he had been treated decently. “Private Affairs (a unit of the Royal Court) brought us a full lamb dish day and night. They treated us well and did a good job,” he said.