updated 11/2/2005 4:55:18 PM ET 2005-11-02T21:55:18

The Saudi king has asked President Bush to release Saddam Hussein’s half brother on humanitarian grounds, the daily newspaper Al-Riyadh reported Wednesday.

The paper quoted sources it did not identify as saying King Abdullah sent a letter to Bush asking him to release Barazan Ibrahim al-Tikriti because he was suffering from an advanced stage of cancer. The paper did not say when the letter was sent.

Al-Riyadh is guided by the government and close to the monarchy. The report comes on the eve of a Muslim feast, when it is traditional to show compassion and release prisoners from jail.

Saudi government officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported Friday that al-Tikriti wrote to the leaders of Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates asking them to help free him and saying he had nothing to do with Saddam’s 35 years of brutal rule.

Al-Tikriti is one seven former officials of Saddam’s regime who are standing trial with the former dictator for the massacre of nearly 150 people in Dujail, central Iraq, in 1982. He was chief of intelligence at time of Dujail killings and later served as Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

He was captured days after Saddam’s regime fell in April 2003 and is in U.S. custody in Baghdad.

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