- Saudi Arabia forcibly disappeared a dissident princes by diverting his private plane to Riyadh so they could arrest him, a report says.
- Prince Salman bin Turki’s abrupt disappearance in February 2016 was covered in western media, but new details have emerged, given to Vanity Fair by three members of bin Turki’s entourage.
- Bin Turki’s entourage told Vanity Fair that their private plane from Paris to Egypt had suspiciously been replaced with a Saudi government one with an all male cabin crew.
- Several hours into the flight, the aides said the the cabin lights and in-flight monitors were turned off, and the plane changed course to Riyadh.
- Upon landing the trio said they were held for 72 hours and forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. Bin Turki has not been seen in public since.
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Saudi Arabia once disappeared an out-of-favor dissident prince by redirecting his private jet to Riyadh in mid-air, a report says.
Bin Turki had been out of favor with the royal household after accusing it of corruption, criticizing the Kingdom’s human rights records, and suing his cousin in court for allegedly kidnapping him in 2013.
The aides, who were not named by Vanity Fair, told the magazine that when they arrived at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport on February 1, 2016, to board the prince’s private jet to Egypt, they were met with an entirely different aircraft.
They were told the newer, and much larger, plane in front of them was a peace offering from the Saudi Embassy in Paris. According to Vanity Fair, the aircraft’s tail number, HZ-MF6, was registered to the Saudi government.
Aviation records seen by Vanity Fair show that the plane’s owner requested that no tracking of the jet be made available on the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
The passengers recounted to Vanity Fair how a few hours into the flight, the cabin lights and in-flight monitors were turned off, and the plane changed course to Riyadh.
When they arrived in the Saudi capital they say they were met by armed police, taken separately to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, kept under lock and key for three days, and then forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton was famously used as a makeshift prison during Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on corruption in 2017.
Bin Turki has not been seen in public since the incident, but told The Independent earlier in 2016: "If I disappear you know what happened to me."
2015 saw two other high-profile royal dissidents vanish without trace: Prince Turki bin Bandar and Prince Saud bin Saif al-Nasr.
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