Her hopes are now in the hands of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.
The group sent an “urgent request” for Basmah’s release to the Saudi Foreign Minister in mid-April, a business associate of the princess told Insider. The associate wished to remain anonymous, citing safety concerns, but their identity is known to Insider.
The secretariat of the UN working group told Insider: “Due to the confidentiality of the proceedings we are not in a position to comment.”
Last week, hopes of a release were stirred when Basmah’s youngest son, Ahmed al-Sharif, was told that she would be freed, the business associate told Insider.
Ahmed has travelled to al-Ha’ir several times to inquire after his mother.
Basmah speaks at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2017.
But the family was cautious. They had been told she would be freed during Ramadan last year, the associate said.
“We are not expecting this to happen,” they told Insider last week.
Calls for Basmah’s release have been more urgent this year, a member of her family told Insider last month, because a number of cases of the coronavirus have been reported in al-Ha’ir.
The princess has long suffered ill health, which has deteriorated since 2018. She has a colonic condition, heart issues, and osteoporosis.
But Dr. Erika Bennett, a friend and collaborator of the princess, told Insider she still has hope of a last-minute change of heart.
“I pray that their hearts will be touched,” said Bennett, who has worked with Princess Basmah in Africa for a decade. “This is the time of reflecting and listening to Allah.”
Worshippers praying during the holy month of Ramadan, while keeping their distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on May 8, 2020.