Tuesday, 11 December 2018 | 22:17 WIB

Saudi releases Kingdom critic Khalid bin Talal after International Outrage over Khashoggi murder

Khalid bin Talal, brother of billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal

SAUDI, NNC - The Saudi government has released the brother of billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal after nearly detained for a year, family members said on Saturday, Nov 3, when the kingdom faced international pressure over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The release of Prince Khalid bin Talal was confirmed by at least three relatives on Twitter, with shared photos of him kissing and hugging his son who has been in a coma for years.

"Thank god for your safety," his niece Princess Reem bint Al-Waleed tweeted.

The Saudi government has not issued a public explanation over his arrest or the conditions for his release. Meanwhile, observers considered the move was an attempt by the Saudi Kingdom to support internal support amid anger over the Khashoggi case.

The Wall Street Journal reported that bin Talal was detained for 11 months for criticizing the biggest crackdown on the royal's elite last November that saw dozens of princes, officials and tycoons detained at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

The government called it a corruption crackdown, but critics say it was an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman - heir to the Saudi throne - to override potential rivals and consolidate power.

Prince Al-Waleed, nicknamed the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia, was among those arrested and released in early January after a an undisclosed financial deal with the government.

It looks similar to the agreement made by authorities with most of other detainees in return for their freedom.

Prince Khalid's release came when the kingdom faced international outrage over the killing of Khashoggi in his consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

This is widely seen as the worst diplomatic crisis faced by the kingdom since the 9/11 terrorist attack.

In addition, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, Nov 2, that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the "highest level" of the Saudi government, without directly naming the crown prince.

The government now seems to want to back internal royal family support to alleviate the crisis.

Authorities also have the potential to release other elites still in detention, including former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah and billionaire businessman Mohammed al-Amoudi, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The killing of Jamal Khashoggi has left the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its weakest diplomatic position since the horrific terror attacks of September 11," Head of the pro-Saudi Arabia Foundation think-tank, Ali Shihabi, wrote in a report on Friday.

"In the aftermath of the understandable global outrage at the Khashoggi murder, something will clearly have to give".

Shihabi called for the release of "women activists and other moderate critics of the government" who had been detained in the crackdown, citing Antara.