Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Saudi Arabia sentences US citizen to 16 years over tweets critical of regime

Saudi Arabia sentences US citizen to 16 years over tweets critical of regime


Saudi Arabia sentences US citizen to 16 years over tweets critical of regime

Saad Ibrahim Almadi, 72, a dual US-Saudi national, was arrested in November 2021 upon landing in Riyadh for what was supposed to be a two-week stay in his native country for a work and personal trip.

The case is now the second known incident of a Saudi who was living abroad being arrested upon their return for using social media.

Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi student living in the UK and attending Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and following and retweeting dissidents and activists. She was arrested and convicted after returning home for a holiday.

Almadi was detained for 11 months without a trial and eventually sentenced to 16 years in prison followed by 16 years house arrest. He was convicted of harboring a terrorist ideology and for trying to destabilize the kingdom. According to his son, US officials have confirmed to the family that Almadi has also been tortured.

His two Twitter accounts show Saad felt at home in America. Ibrahim said his father was simply exercising his freedom of speech when he published critical tweets. While he was aware of the Saudi crackdown on dissent, Ibrahim said his father felt safe traveling back to Saudi for a short visit, both because of his American citizenship and because he was part of a tribe that was considered well-connected in Saudi society.

The state department did not immediately return a request for comment.

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