“He should be ashamed to meet a leader that has four grown women locked up” – the message from two Saudi princesses to President Obama as he meets with their father, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
In an exclusive on-camera interview with Channel 4 News, we talk to Princesses Sahar and Jawaher, who say they have been held under effective house arrest, by their father, the king, for more than a decade.
Princesses Sahar and Jawaher are the daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. They say they have been held in the royal compound in Jeddah for the last 13 years, and their sisters Maha and Hala are also being held in separate villas. They claim they are not allowed to travel or leave their home.
If he does that to his own children, how do you think the rest of the country is? – Princess Jawaher
Princesses Sahar and Jawaher claim they have little communication outside of their gates – “no-one is allowed in or out.” They say the internet is their only window onto the world. Via Skype, they tell Channel 4 News they are “cut off, isolated… and alone” and that “our father, the king, is responsible.”
Their mother Alanoud Al Fayez, who is divorced from the king, first went public with their story two weeks ago, giving her first broadcast interview to Channel 4 News. Since that interview was broadcast, the princesses say restrictions on them have been tightened and they are no longer even allowed to make trips with armed guards for food, as they were previously.
They say food is now becoming scarce in their home, that they are desperate for the world to listen to their story and for someone to help.
Their only hope is that our report will make a difference, and that is why they wanted to broadcast this interview. Princess Sahar says: “This is a risk we’re taking, we’re happy to do it, we understand full well the repercussions, but we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Princess Sahar said to reporter Fatima Manji “why are we, grown women, held against our will? I believe we are now hostages.”
Her sister, Princess Jawaher, said: “If he does that to his own children, how do you think the rest of the country is?”
The Saudi embassy in London has so far only responded to these claims by saying “this is a private matter”.