Two senior Saudi royals are among several members of the royal family arrested on Friday, two sources with knowledge of the arrests have said, confirming an apparent bid to consolidate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s power.
The brother of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and a former crown prince were among those detained, one Saudi source, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said Sunday.
He told CNN that several senior royals were detained in the capital Riyadh on Friday, including Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a brother of Saudi King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the king’s nephew who is known as MBN.
Prince Ahmed was arrested along with a security detail, the source said. The prince had been on vacation in Morocco, and was arrested two days after returning to the kingdom.
The newly arrested royals have been taken to the same detention facility as the former King’s son Turki bin Abdullah, the source added.
A separate Saudi source also confirmed the arrest of former crown prince MBN and the king’s brother.
The detentions, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, have not been announced by the Saudi government or state media. Senior government sources told CNN they had no knowledge of the arrests.
Mohammed bin Nayef, or MBN, has been under house arrest since June 2017 when he was forced to hand over the crown prince title to Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.
Mohammed bin Salman demonstrated his grip on the country later that year, detaining 200 people, including at least 17 Saudi princes, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh in what the kingdom described as an anti-corruption sweep.
The house arrest of MBN had never been acknowledged publicly, raising questions as to why he has been taken into custody now and what could have prompted the move.
This story has been updated throughout.
CNN’s Tara John wrote from London.