A Lebanese artist is speculated to have faced the same tragic fate as Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with media reports saying he has been detained in Saudi Arabia for several days and Riyadh suspiciously declining to allow his family a visit.
Lebanese media outlets said on Tuesday that Saudi authorities had a few days earlier arrested prominent composer Samir Sfeir after he arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, at the invitation of an unknown Saudi official.
According to the al-Akhbar newspaper, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry contacted the Saudi Embassy about the arrest and, later, Sfeir’s wife was promised a visit to her husband but when she arrived in Riyadh, she was not granted permission to visit him.
The Lebanese paper also said that Saudi authorities had so far refused to respond to requests for providing Beirut with information on why Sfeir was arrested.
Other media outlets said Sfeir, who is a known supporter of Lebanon’s largest Christian bloc — the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) — set out for Riyadh following an invitation from Waleed bin Ghazi, a personal assistant to the Saudi information minister.
According to reports, Sfeir’s family has been unaware of his condition for several days and the Lebanese artist is being kept in Saudi Arabia’s political prison, Dehun.
Charbel Khalil, a prominent FPM member, claimed that Saudi Arabia had “kidnapped” Sfeir just because he was “Aounist,” referring to the supporters of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
“The Lebanese artist, Samir Sfeir, was kidnapped in the Kingdom of Bin Salman only because he is Aounist,” he wrote in a tweet. “It is the height of humiliation, shame and disgrace.”
Some Lebanese sources have expressed concern that Sfeir may have faced the fate of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in 2018.