Saudi Arabia has denied a report that former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted as next in line to the throne last week, is being held under house arrest.
A senior Saudi official described a New York Times report that Mohammed bin Nayef had been confined to his palace in Jeddah and prevented from leaving the country as “untrue, completely false and baseless.”
“Nothing has changed for Prince Mohammed, except of stepping down from his government positions. He hosts guests and leaves his house on a daily basis since he has stepped down,” the official told CNN Thursday. “Further, there are no restrictions on his movement whatsoever, either in or outside of Saudi Arabia.”
The report comes just a week after a dramatic reshuffling of Saudi Arabia’s line of succession. In a series of decrees King Salman removed his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, as crown prince and installed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman in his place.
While the reshuffle took some observers by surprise, the writing had been on the wall for some time. In recent years, the King, 81, has handed a wide range of powers to his son while seeking to enact reforms in the conservative country.
In addition to his new role as crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman was also elevated to deputy prime minister, in addition to his existing role as defense minister.