For the first time since her arrest two years ago, Saudi Princess Basma Bint Saud managed to communicate with her family during a short phone call.
It is believed that the call took place secretly thanks to outside help, without the knowledge of the Saudi authorities, as the call was cut off after only two minutes.
Princess Basma has remained isolated from the outside world in the high-security al-Ha’ir prison near Riyadh’s capital since her arrest, the same facility where the women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was held recently.
Forbes magazine revealed that on May 13, the princess was allowed to make a short phone call to one of her relatives in Saudi Arabia. However, the conversation ended abruptly after only two minutes.
According to several informed sources, Princess Basma discussed arrangements for her will “in case anything happens to her,” when the call was cut off.
Saudi authorities told the United Nations last year that Princess Basma was accused of the criminal offense of attempting to travel outside the Kingdom illegally.
Her daughter, who is detained with her in the same prison, is accused of assaulting an agent and committing an unspecified electronic crime.
At the time, neither princesses have been formally charged and it is not clear if that has changed.
The princess’s legal representative, Henry Estramante, said his client had not been allowed regular contact with her family or had been provided with any legal advice since her detention.
Supporters of Princess Basma Bint Saud were pressuring the US government to take care of her case, and hoped that the State Department would decide to intervene.
Its situation also drew attention in Europe and was sparked by, along with other similar cases, a delegation from the European Parliament to the Kingdom in early 2020.
Eva Kaili, a Greek member of the European Parliament who was part of the delegation, said a Saudi government minister had given them reason to believe that she might be released long beforehand.
“But unfortunately, a year has passed since they said that, and Princess Basma has not been released,” she added.
It is noteworthy that the last messages to the public from Princess Basma were in April 2020, when a series of tweets were issued from her account calling for her release.
Her last short phone call comes amid reports of a new crackdown on activists in the Kingdom this year.
Saudi authorities have also targeted other members of the royal family, with Prince Sultan bin Salman recently placed under a travel ban, according to reports.
Prince Sultan became famous in 1985 when he traveled on the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the first Arab in space. He is the half-brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and son of King Salman.