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Saudi official slams New York Times for fake report on ex-crown prince confinement

RIYADH: Officials in Saudi Arabia on Thursday denied a New York Times report that former crown prince has been under house arrest and barred from travelling after he was replaced by the Saudi monarch’s favourite son as next in line to the throne.

The former heir to the throne, Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, a veteran interior minister, was relieved of all his duties a week ago after King Salman’s promoted his favorite son, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, who also serves as defense minister to crown prince.

Speaking to Reuters news agency, senior Saudi officials Thursday denied the claims of the NYT paper– as “not true at all, 100 percent,” without giving any further details.

Citing four current and former US officials working in Riyadh and Saudis close to the royal family of al-Saud, the NYT said the recently deposed crown prince has been “barred from leaving the kingdom.

Terming it as a “fabricated story”, the official told Reuters, “What was published by the New York Times is untrue, completely false, and baseless.”

“His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and his family is moving freely and hosting his guests unrestrictedly. Nothing has changed for Prince Mohammed, except for stepping down from his government positions,” the official said.

“He hosts guests and leaves his house on a daily basis since he has stepped down. Further, there are no restrictions on his movement whatsoever, either in or outside of Saudi Arabia.”