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Saudi Arabia upholds conviction against ex-spy chief's children

Saad al-Jabri family say they never received word on proceedings or final verdict after the two children filed an appeal
A court in Saudi Arabia jailed Sarah and Omar al-Jabri last year over charges of money laundering and a conspiracy to flee the kingdom unlawfully
A court in Saudi Arabia jailed Sarah and Omar al-Jabri last year over charges of money laundering and conspiracy to flee the kingdom unlawfully (Twitter)
By in
Washington

A Saudi court secretly upheld convictions against the children of former spymaster Saad al-Jabri, whose family said it was an attempt by Riyadh to coerce the former intelligence official to return to the kingdom.

A court in Saudi Arabia jailed Sarah and Omar al-Jabri last year over charges of money laundering and a conspiracy to flee the kingdom unlawfully.

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According to the Reuters news agency, the duo filed an appeal in November 2020. According to a document submitted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's lawyers earlier this month as part of Jabri's lawsuit against the crown prince in a US court, Riyadh's court of appeals upheld convictions against Omar and Sarah on 24 December.

The document, which was stamped by the Saudi public prosecutor's office, said Omar and Sarah were sentenced to nine and six-and-a-half years, respectively, in prison, fined a total of 1.5 million Saudi riyals ($400,000) and given years-long bans from leaving the country.

The family said they were not informed of any of the appeal proceedings and that they never received final word on the appeal. They also said that the case had disappeared from the court docket by January.

The appeal "never happened," Jabri's son Khalid, who lives in Canada, told Reuters. Khalid said the irregularities in the case pointed to interference by the crown prince, also known as MBS.

Middle East Eye reached out to the Saudi embassy in Washington but did not receive a response by the time of publication. Middle East Eye also reached out to the Jabri family.

MBS versus Jabri

The news of appeal also caused concerns for the Biden administration regarding the detention of children in the kingdom.

"We are deeply concerned by reports of the al-Jabri children's detention and sentencing, and we strongly condemn any unjust action against family members of those accused of crimes," a State Department spokesperson told Middle East Eye in an emailed statement.

"We have been in direct contact with senior Saudi officials and will continue to raise our concerns.

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"Sa'ad al-Jabri was a valued partner in countering terrorism whose work helped save countless American and Saudi lives."

Global Affairs Canada also told MEE it was "very concerned" regarding the detention of Jabri's two children, and that Ottawa has "frequently raised Canada's human rights concerns with the Saudi government, both in public and in private".

The news also comes amid an ongoing legal dispute between Jabri and MBS that is playing out in courtrooms in the US, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.

Last summer, Jabri filed a lawsuit in the US against the crown prince, accusing him of sending agents to Canada in 2018 to kill him.

Then, in January, a group of Saudi state-owned firms alleged in a lawsuit in Canada that Jabri embezzled billions of dollars of state funds while working at the Ministry of Interior, charges he denies.

A former Saudi intelligence official who had deep ties to the CIA, Jabri had been a key go-between for western spy agencies and the Saudi intelligence apparatus.

He worked closely under former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, who in 2017 was ousted, put under house arrest, and replaced by MBS as the country's crown prince. Jabri fled the country before the palace coup and landed in Canada in 2018, where he currently resides.

A source familiar with his situation previously told MEE that Jabri's loyalty to bin Nayef and his decades-spanning knowledge of the inner workings of the kingdom's powerful interior ministry had made him a target of MBS.