Saudi Arabia sentences U.S. citizen to 16 years in prison over tweets, family says

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A U.S. citizen has been arrested in Saudi Arabia, tortured and sentenced to 16 years in prison over tweets he despatched whereas in the United States, his son stated Tuesday.

Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a 72-year-old retired challenge supervisor dwelling in Florida, was arrested final November whereas visiting family in the dominion and was sentenced earlier this month, his son Ibrahim Almadi informed The Associated Press, confirming particulars that have been first reported by the Washington Post. Almadi is a citizen of each Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

There was no rapid remark from Saudi officers.

Speaking at a press briefing, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel confirmed Almadi’s detention and stated Washington first raised its issues with Riyadh in December 2021, as quickly because it was made conscious of the arrest.

“We have persistently and intensively raised our issues relating to the case at senior ranges of the Saudi authorities … and we’ll proceed to accomplish that. We have raised this with members of the Saudi authorities as not too long ago as yesterday,” Patel stated.

He didn’t say what Almadi was charged with however stated: “Exercising the liberty of expression ought to by no means be criminalized.”

14 ‘delicate tweets’ over 7 years: son

It appeared to be the newest in a sequence of current circumstances in which Saudis obtained lengthy jail sentences for social media posts important of the federal government.

Saudi authorities have tightened their crackdown on dissent following the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who’s searching for to open up and remodel the ultraconservative kingdom however has adopted a tough line in the direction of any criticism.

A Saudi courtroom not too long ago sentenced a lady, Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani, to 45 years in prison for allegedly damaging the nation via her social media exercise. A Saudi doctoral pupil at Leeds University in England, Salma al-Shehab, was sentenced to 34 years for spreading “rumours” and retweeting dissidents, a case that drew worldwide outrage.

WATCH | U.S. finding out 34-year sentence for ladies’s rights activist: 

U.S. finding out 34-year prison sentence for Salma al-Shehab in Saudi Arabia

Advocating for the rights of ladies ought to ‘by no means be criminalized,’ stated State Department spokesman Ned Price whereas confirming the U.S. is finding out the case of ladies’s rights activist Salma al-Shehab, who was sentenced in Saudi Arabia to 34 years in prison.

Ibrahim says his father was detained over 14 “delicate tweets” despatched over the previous seven years, principally criticizing authorities insurance policies and alleged corruption.

He says his father was not an activist however a non-public citizen expressing his opinion whereas in the U.S., the place freedom of speech is a constitutional proper.

Biden’s go to marked turnaround

U.S. President Joe Biden travelled to the oil-rich kingdom in July for a gathering with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which he stated he confronted him about human rights.

Their assembly — and a extensively criticized fist-bump — marked a pointy turnaround from Biden’s earlier vow to make the dominion a “pariah” over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, proper, greets U.S. President Joe Biden with a fist bump after his arrival at Al-Salam palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 15. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/The Associated Press)

Ibrahim stated that on Oct. 3, his father was sentenced to 16 years in prison on costs of supporting terrorism. The father was additionally charged with failing to report terrorism, over tweets that Ibrahim had posted.

He stated his father was additionally slapped with a 16-year journey ban. If the sentence is carried out, the 72-year-old could be 87 upon his launch and barred from returning house to the U.S. until he reaches the age of 104.

Ibrahim stated Saudi authorities warned his family to keep quiet in regards to the case and to not contain the U.S. authorities. He stated his father was tortured after the family contacted the State Department in March.

Ibrahim additionally accused the State Department of neglecting his father’s case by not declaring him a “wrongfully detained” American, which might elevate his file.

“They manipulated me. They informed me to keep quiet to allow them to get him out,” Ibrahim stated, explaining his determination to go public this week. “I’m not prepared to take a big gamble on the Department of State anymore.”

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