Senior Saudi prince freed 'after $1bn deal'

Senior Saudi prince freed 'after $1bn deal'

The prince has so far not commented and it was not clear whether he was now able to move freely or whether he was under some form of house arrest.

Writing on his Twitter account, Moaid Mahjoob, who identifies himself as director of external relations for Princess Jawahar Al-Saud, another Saudi royal family member, said Prince Miteb "had been released and that he was at his home in Riyadh".

"The apparent release of Prince Miteb may be a sign that the Saudi authorities are making progress in agreeing settlements with detainees", said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

Prince Miteb denied the corruption allegations and accused Prince Salman of using the anti-corruption campaign to boost his power in the kingdom. At least three other suspects have also finalized settlement deals, the official said. The prince said authorities could recover as much as $100 billion in settlements.

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The prosecutor has made a decision to put at least five people on trial, the official said without disclosing their identities.

Prince Miteb is the first senior figure known to be released among those detained. Around 200 people in total have been questioned in the crackdown, authorities said earlier this month. The list included billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the king's nephew, as well as billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi, officials have said.

Saudi Arabia's attorney-general estimates at least $100bn has been misused in embezzlement or corruption over several decades. "We continue to believe that MBS's risky domestic gambits are likely to succeed", he wrote in a report. The prince's arrest fueled speculation that the crackdown was more about tightening the crown prince's grip on power, a claim he dismissed as "ludicrous" in an interview with the New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman this month.

Prince Miteb was considered a contender for the throne a few years ago and was believed to have opposed Prince Salman from becoming a crown prince.

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