Local press reports said Wednesday that Prince Abdullah bin Saud bin Mohammed had been sacked as head of Saudi Arabia’s Maritime Sports Federation after he purportedly made an audio recording criticizing the government.
Prince Abdullah was replaced by a military officer, the reports said.
The prince had in the nearly six-minute-long audio criticized a recent purge of royals allegedly ordered by bin Salman, the Saudi king's 32-year-old son. Abdullah called as “false” and “illogical” the reasons cited by the government for the arrest of 11 princes, who staged a sit-in outside a palace and protested a royal order to halt utility payments for royals.
The voice was posted online and published on Arabic media websites this week while it had also been circulating on Whatsapp, a popular messenger application on mobile phones.
The arrests, which included the sons of the billionaire prince and chairman of Saudi Arabia's largest dairy company, Almarai Co., came nearly two months ago in what was believed to be another bid by bin Salman to eliminate any opposition to his expanding powers as heir to the throne.
In the message, Prince Abdullah repeatedly acknowledged the position of bin Salman as the second in line to the king. However, he challenged the charges brought against the detained princes and said that none of them would ever “turn on or disobey” King Salman.
Bin Salman, known for his unstable manners, became crown prince when a cousin of his was sidelined nearly seven months ago. Saudi royals are clearly fearful that the young and relatively inexperienced prince’s ultimate access to the throne, which some say would be imminent, will destabilize Saudi Arabia and slide the country into further political uncertainty.