July 19, 2017 / 6:27 PM / 2 years ago

Saudi official dismisses palace coup report as Hollywood fantasy

FILE PHOTO - Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reacts upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 24, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

(Reuters) - A senior Saudi official on Wednesday denied that there was anything wrong with the way that crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef was removed from his post in favor of the king’s favorite son, Mohammed bin Salman.

Reuters reported earlier on Wednesday that the heir to the throne, Mohammed bin Nayef, had been forced to step aside in an effective palace coup by King Salman bin Abdulaziz because the younger man’s judgment was clouded by his addiction to painkilling drugs.

The high official source said the account was totally “unfounded and untrue in addition to being nonsense”.

“The story depicted here is a complete fantasy worthy of Hollywood,” the official said in a statement to Reuters.

The statement did not refer to Mohammed bin Nayef’s alleged use of drugs such as morphine, which he took to cope with pain he suffered after an attacker blew himself up in front of him in his palace in 2009.

The Saudi official said Mohammed bin Nayef had been removed from his post in the national interest and had not experienced any “pressure or disrespect”.

The official added that the reasons for Mohammed bin Nayef’s removal were “confidential”.

Sources with knowledge of the situation reported that Mohammed bin Nayef was under house arrest following his removal from office, but the Saudi official said Mohammed bin Nayef had received guests, including the king and the new crown prince.

Despite suggestions by sources that King Salman might step down in favor of Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi official said the king was “in excellent health”.

Reporting by Reuters staff

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