King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has named a young prince, who is reportedly a mystery buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus, as head of the newly established Culture Ministry.
The statement accused the detainees of "coordinated activity undermining the security and stability of the kingdom".
Global rights watchdogs have reported the detention of at least 11 activists in the past few weeks, mostly women who previously campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.
The statement added that a total of 17 people were initially arrested in the case, eight of whom were released from custody pending the completion of procedures.
Saudi authorities claim those activists admitted to communicating and cooperating with "individuals and organizations hostile" to the Kingdom; recruiting people in a position to obtain confidential information and official documents to harm the country's interests; and providing financial and moral support to hostile elements overseas.
3- Providing moral and financial support to elements hostile toward the kingdom. It did not name the detainees.
At least four activists have been released, according to Amnesty International.
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Often referred to by his initials, MBS, the prince pledged a "moderate, open" Saudi Arabia in a televised keynote speech in October, telling worldwide investors his country wanted "to live a normal life".
Saudi Arabia is the world's top oil exporter. They say the activists feared changes would stop if they did not continue to work for greater rights.
Cinemas have reopened, the country's long-standing driving ban for women is due to end later this month and the prince has even publicly criticised Saudi's religious establishment as out of touch with the times, promising to return to a more "moderate Islam".
State-linked media have referred to the group as "foreign embassy agents" and branded them traitors.
Also believed to still be detained are Ibrahim al-Mudaimigh, a lawyer with a doctorate from Harvard Law School who's provided legal representation to human rights activists in the kingdom; writer and activist Mohammed al-Rabea; and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal, a businessman and philanthropist who supported an effort by activists to establish a non-governmental organization to help victims of domestic abuse.
Prince Mohammed serves as deputy prime minister under his father, King Salman.