The legal advisor for Princess Basmah is pushing the White House to pressure Saudi Arabia to give her urgent medical treatment, emails show

  • In Health
  • 2022-07-22 18:29:52Z
  • By Business Insider
Princess Basmah
Princess Basmah  
  • Princess Basmah of Saudi Arabia requires urgent treatment for Crohn's disease, her legal advisor told Insider.

  • Emails reviewed by Insider show legal advisor Henri Estramant urging the White House to step in.

  • Estramant pleaded with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to allow her get treatment.

The legal advisor to Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud Al Saud has been urging the White House to allow the princess to get urgent medical treatment for Crohn's disease, according to emails between him and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Her legal advisor, Henri Estramant, told Insider the princess, who is the youngest daughter of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, is "not doing well" and has only been eating boiled dates and liquefied foods like zucchini because of Crohn's disease, which causes an inflamed digestive tract and induces severe abdominal pain, fatigue, malnutrition, and weight loss.

In January, the princess was released from a three-year detainment in a high-security prison facility. The princess, 58, and her daughter were suddenly detained in early 2019 while en route to Switzerland to receive medical treatment. Princess Basmah and her daughter were never charged with a crime, according to her legal advisor.

At the time of her release, Estramant told The New York Times that it was unclear whether Princess Basmah would be permitted to travel internationally to receive medical treatment.

And currently - six months after her release - Estramant is urging the White House to ask Saudi authorities to allow her to receive proper medical treatment. Without it, according to Estramant and her doctors in Switzerland, she could die.

The princess, currently located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has asked the country's Royal Court to allow her to travel to Switzerland, where doctors have technology that allows them to decrease the severity of Crohn's symptoms and manage any complications. But those requests have gone unanswered, Estramant told Insider.

In a June 13 email reviewed by Insider, Estramant pleaded with Blinken to intervene by trying to convince Saudi officials to give her medical aid ahead of President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia.

"Princess Basmah bint Saud is in urgent need of medical care for her Crohn's malady, preferably at her clinic in Switzerland, for her homeland lacks the necessary medical expertise," Estramant told Blinken. "Nonetheless, we would be thankful, even if the Saudi authorities facilitate equipment and doctors from her clinic to operate her in Jeddah."

Blinken has not acknowledged the request, Estramant said.

Estramant said the princess is receiving virtual medical guidance from her doctors in Switzerland. Her doctors also flew to Jeddah to evaluate her in person, but Saudi Arabia "lacks the robotic equipment required for the procedures that must be performed to save the life of Princess Basmah," Estramant told Insider.

In the email to Blinken, Estramant said he believes that pressure from the US would force Saudi authorities to "acquiesce [sic] to her urgent medical procedures."

A letter signed by a medical specialist from the Switzerland clinic from which the princess has been receiving medical guidance warns that her health issues must be monitored closely.

"We would also like to remark that our team here has been in charge of the medical case of the patient since long time and has successfully executed the planned surgery and post-surgery procedures for the benefit of the patient, who now requires the immediate and needed medical treatment in order to avoid any fatal events," the letter, reviewed by Insider, says.

Three years of detainment

Before her arrest, Princess Basmah had reportedly sought to travel abroad for medical treatment and was "accused of trying to forge a passport," a relative said at the time.

It's unclear why the princess was detained, but her family has speculated that it's likely due to her outspokenness on humanitarian issues. In 2020, her family wrote a letter to the United Nations arguing that her "record as an outspoken critic of abuses" likely spurred the detention. Her family also previously told Insider that they believe her detention was an attempt to stop her from claiming part of a multi-billion euro inheritance from her father, the late King Saud.

In May 2020, while held in the al-Ha'ir Prison, Princess Basmah took to Twitter to beg her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to release her.

After the tweets, the princess was forbidden to make contact with her family, a close associate of the Saudi royal previously told Insider.

The last time the family had heard from her was in May 2021, when she called her son Ahmed al-Sharif from prison, a business associate and a close family member of the princess told Insider. According to Insider's sources, in the conversation, Princess Basmah had mentioned a will but before she could get into more specific details, the call got cut off.

ALQST for Human Rights, a nonprofit based in London, said on Twitter that she had been "denied the medical care she needed for a potentially life-threatening condition" while in jail. "At no point during her detention has any charge been levelled [sic] against her," the group added.


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