Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia
A former Saudi intelligence officer who accused the royal family of being overrun by “a psychopath and a hypnotist” has described the country’s deputy crown prince as a “psychopath”.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MbS, has vowed to clean up the royal family after two years of a crackdown on corruption.
His other task – to reform the kingdom’s controversial economy – has been condemned by some foreign observers.
Prince Mohammed also dismissed at the time concerns over the investigation into alleged bribery and embezzlement in the country.
“I don’t care if they accuse me of killing people. I do not care about if the world sees me as a murderer,” he told the Washington Post in 2014.
“I work on a godfather mentality. If I am accused of corruption, I will tell the world, ‘Allah saved me. Thank you’. I will say I am just a servant of my godfather.'”
Western officials have warned that such comments risk sending the wrong signal to allies that look to Saudi Arabia as a Gulf ally.
In Washington, the former Saudi intelligence officer – who asked to remain anonymous – accused the prince of being a tyrant who only shows “naiveté, arrogance and lack of intellectual ability”.
“He is not only a psychopath. He is basically a victim of a hypnotist,” he told the Post.
The Prince – by now a de facto ruler – initiated the corruption investigation after taking charge of the role in 2015.
The investigation extended to former Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, who reportedly handed over large amounts of money to the government.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Prince Nayef was under investigation for alleged bribery and embezzlement
Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, a son of King Abdullah, was also investigated and handed over $80m in cash and large properties to the government.
Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah was also interviewed by prosecutors, but reports have said he is not cooperating with the inquiry and is facing arrest.
The former intelligence officer accused the prince of sowing corruption, and of his frequent references to “absolute power” that would allow him to do “what he wants” when his father, King Salman, was not around.
Former President Barack Obama said in November 2016, a month after Prince Mohammed was appointed deputy crown prince, that the reforms of the prince had been “smashed down underfoot” by King Salman.
Image copyright EPA Image caption Prince Mohammed is known for his foreign policy adventurism
After the government froze many bank accounts of officials, Prince Mohammed launched an anti-corruption campaign, threatening people who refused to be interviewed with imprisonment.
“The sooner I get this passed and this investigated and this with Saudi Arabia, the better off we are, the better off you are, the better off I am,” he told the Washington Post at the time.
Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International said in January that, while some reforms had begun, the price could be even higher than before for others.