Jailed Saudi princess 'fears she will catch coronavirus' in prison

The letter, a rare public appeal from a member of the secretive royal family, voiced fears that Princess Basmah's 'deteriorating health' could result in her death. Allowed one weekly telephone call before the tweets, Suhoud told her family that prison authorities had sounded the alarm that coronavirus cases had been detected inside the facility. The government has said nothing publicly about the princess's detention.  The case, which spotlights what observers call increasing repression under de facto ruler Prince Mohammed, is the latest sign of turmoil within the royal family following the detention in March this year of King Salman's brother and nephew. Security footage of that encounter provided by the sources shows the men - burly and armed with pistols - before they moved to cover the surveillance cameras with pieces of cloth. In written testimony to the United Nations, seen by AFP, the family said Princess Basmah's detention was likely due to her 'record as an outspoken critic of abuses in our country' as well as her enquiries about a fortune belonging to King Saud that is frozen by the state. The government has yet to officially comment on the crackdown, which observers say is an attempt to stamp out dissent and enforce absolute loyalty within royal ranks to Prince Mohammed.  Princess Basmah suffers from numerous health issues including osteoporosis and severe gastrointestinal problems, according to her medical records seen by AFP. Her detention in a notorious prison is unprecedented in Saudi Arabia, where royal family members are typically held under house arrest or detained in luxury villas or hotels. But her troubles may have only increased after her Twitter plea - an unusually bold move by someone from the kingdom's sprawling royal family, comprising thousands of members. Since an interview with BBC Arabic last January in which she called for an end to the Saudi war in Yemen, Princess Basmah has made no major media appearances.