WASHINGTON — A daughter of a former Saudi official accused of attempting to seek women’s rights in Turkey said Thursday that she has received several messages from her father, suggesting that Saudi officials have attempted to lure her into the country for questioning.
Ruth Mansour, a doctoral student in English at the University of Cambridge, told The Washington Post that her father, Ahmad Mansour, communicated with her in Arabic several times in recent weeks, communicating over Twitter and Skype as well as emails, to suggest that a dark conspiracy against him was behind her tweets and that they were never a personal fight between him and his daughter.
“There are messages from my father about how come my Twitter was deleting,” she said. “I responded to him by asking him why and he asked if I had gotten a new password. Then he said, ‘Why don’t you go and help us find some files? We can get to the bottom of this.’ ”
The woman was not given a formal explanation from the authorities in Saudi Arabia for her family’s arrest, and she said she hadn’t received any emails or phone calls from them since last year. But she said she had received several messages that suggested that her father and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia “hated me” and that her tweets were meant to “infect” people.
“This is part of an ongoing conspiracy against me,” Mansour said. “It’s part of a smear campaign. They don’t like me because I did my own media relations. That is my job. It’s exactly why the policies of the Saudi government are so terrible.”
Mansour, who was recently released from the cell where she had been held, previously had defended Saudi women’s rights on her Facebook and Twitter pages. In February, she posted on Facebook that Saudi Arabia and other countries like Iran had contributed to the issue of “moral decay” that had led to the rise of Daesh, or the Islamic State.
She also posted a video in April in which she told supporters that she had canceled an interview with The New York Times because of pressure from the Saudi embassy in Washington. Mansour was detained in January at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after applying for a passport. She was charged with allegedly “hurting the reputation of Saudi Arabia” and “inciting people” on social media, and she was sentenced to five years in prison and 600 lashes.
But Mansour told The Post Thursday that the message from her father was meant for her and that she has never expressed hate toward Saudi Arabia in her tweets.
“I’m absolutely not an Islamophobe. My original tweets in English were actually about Islamophobia,” she said. “As a Muslim in Saudi Arabia, I’m in an incredibly difficult position. I’m able to express my opinions, but Saudi Arabia has told me that if I express my opinion I will face jail time or even death.”
According to Mansour, the father sent the messages about her purported conspiracy theories with the subject line “Justice for” or “let justice prevail.”
She said she believes that the messages come from Saudi Arabia, pointing to one message that reads: “Killer tweets didn’t harm you, they ruined you.” She said she believes that her father, who has always been “very suspicious of this country,” was using this position to try to get information from her.
Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Associated Press on Thursday that police from the southern Turkish city of Adana were looking for Mansour’s father, former Foreign Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in connection with the reported kidnapping. A spokesman for the Saudi government told The Post that there was no basis for a kidnapping and that there is no such raid.