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NYT: Saudis Used Coercion, Abuse to Seize Billions

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New revelations of the Saudi torture against Ritz Calton's hostages were revealed.

NYT: Saudis Used Coercion, Abuse to Seize Billions

A report by the New York Times uncovered that a Saudi general died of a broken neck after being tortured at a hotel during the so-called 'anti-corruption' purge.

Princes, tycoons and ministers were held in early November at Riyadh's luxury Ritz-Carlton as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looked to consolidate his grip on power.

It has now been stated that at least 17 detainees were hospitalized after facing abuse, while a Saudi general later died in custody with what witnesses said appeared to be a broken neck.

Many of the 381 suspects remain under military surveillance and some have been forced to wear ankle bracelets that track their movements, The New York Times said.

The US daily further detailed: "Businessmen once considered giants of the Saudi economy now wear ankle bracelets that track them. Princes who led military forces and appeared in glossy magazines are monitored by guards they do not command. Families who flew on private jets cannot gain access to their bank accounts. Even wives and children have been forbidden to travel."

"To leave the Ritz, many detainees not only surrendered huge sums of money, but also signed over to the government control of precious real estate and shares of their companies - all outside any clear legal process," it added.

One former detainee, forced to wear a tracking device, has sunk into depression as his business collapses.

"We signed away everything," a relative of his told the NYT. "Even the house I am in, I am not sure if it is still mine."

The government has rejected the abuse claims as 'completely untrue'.

However, the daily reported: "Before dawn on Nov 4, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the kingdom's most famous investor and one of the world's richest men, was asleep at a desert camp when he was summoned by the royal court to see King Salman, according to two associates of his family.

He returned to Riyadh, where his guards were dismissed, his phones taken from him and he was locked in the Ritz.

"Over the next 24 hours, similar calls lured in more than 200 people, including some of the kingdom's wealthiest and most powerful men. They included Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, a son of King Abdullah and head of one of the country's three main security services; Fawaz Alhokair, who owned the kingdom's franchises of Zara, the Gap and dozens of other stores; Salah Kamel, an elderly businessman from the Red Sea port city of Jiddah; and many other princes, businessmen and former government officials. Most ended up in the Ritz, where they could watch television and order room service but had no internet or phones. Outside, their relatives panicked, and managers of their far-flung businesses drew up contingency plans to keep operations running, unsure of how long their bosses would be gone. Eventually, the detainees were allowed to reassure their families through short, monitored calls."

In November, a source told that detainees were being strung up by their feet and beaten by a firm of American mercenaries named as 'Blackwater', which now no longer exists. The company's successor strongly denied even being in Saudi Arabia and says it does not engage in torture.

The latest revelations came ahead of a high-profile visit to the United States by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment, but the New York Times quoted the government rejecting the abuse claims as 'completely untrue'.

The New York Times highlighted that a case involved a Saudi military officer who died in custody.
One person who saw the corpse of the officer, Major-General Ali al-Qahtani, said his neck was twisted as if it had been broken, and that his body was badly bruised and distended. His skin showed other signs of physical abuse, the person said.

Al-Qahtani, an officer in the Saudi National Guard who was believed to be about 60, was not wealthy himself, so his value as a major anti-corruption target is questionable. But he was a top aide to Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah and a former governor of Riyadh, and the interrogators may have been pressing the general for information about his boss, Prince Turki.

A doctor and two other people briefed on the condition of the body said it had burn marks.

Officials have said they are in the process of recovering $107 billion [87 billion euros] seized in the crackdown, in the form of property, securities and cash, handed over by the suspects in exchange for their freedom.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team