Saudi Arabia Sentence A U.S. Citizen To 16 Years Imprisonment Over Tweets
Saudi Arabia sentence a U.S. citizen for tweets he sent while he was still a U.S. citizen that were critical of the country. A 72-year-old man from Florida was reportedly arrested in Saudi Arabia and given a 16-year prison sentence.
An American and a Saudi national, Saad Ibrahim Almadi is a retired project manager. His son Ibrahim informed The Associated Press that his father was detained in Saudi Arabia in November 2021. According to Almadi's son, his father was held over 14 "minor tweets" he wrote over the course of seven years, most of which were critical of Saudi government policy.
According to AP, Almadi's son said that his father was not an activist but rather was using his right to free speech in a democratic nation. He was found guilty of aiding terrorists and failing to disclose terrorist activity, and he was sentenced to 16 years in jail, with a travel restriction prohibiting him from leaving Saudi Arabia for another 16 years after his release.
What Ibrahim told AP that his father was tortured in March by Saudi officials after his family contacted the United States Department of State about the matter, despite warnings from Saudi authorities not to talk publicly about it.
The State Department has not yet designated Ibrahim's father a "wrongfully detained" American, which would significantly improve his case status. Therefore, Ibrahim has decided to talk to the press now, he told the Associated Press.
COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/saudi-arabia-sentence-a-us-citizen/ by William Willis on 2022-10-21T03:20:49.666Z
The U.S. has consistently and intensively raised our concerns regarding the case at senior levels of the Saudi government, both through channels in Riyadh and Washington, D.C., and we will continue to do so. We have raised this with members of the Saudi government as recently as yesterday.
- A spokesman for the United States Department of State said
U.S. citizen given 16-year sentence by Saudi Arabia for tweets criticizing government
The Washington Post first reported the confirmation, which comes after Almadi's son publicly blasted the State Department for ignoring his father's case.
A Saudi court recently handed down a 45-year sentence to a woman for her claimed detriment to the kingdom through social media. The story of a Saudi PhD student at Leeds University in England who was sentenced to 34 years in prison for spreading "rumors" and retweeting dissidents sparked indignation throughout the world.
Ibrahim claims that his father was arrested because of 14 "minor comments" he wrote on Twitter over the course of seven years. These tweets criticized government policies and accused corruption. He insists that his dad wasn't an activist but rather a private individual using his right to free speech in the United States.
In July, Vice President Joe Biden reportedly met with Prince Mohammed in the oil-rich country and addressed him on human rights violations. The encounter between the two men and the highly condemned fist-bump that followed it constituted a dramatic about-face for Vice President Joe Biden, who had previously vowed to make the country a "pariah" for the murder of Saudi writer and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
According to Ibrahim, his father was convicted of aiding terrorists on October 3 and sentenced to 16 years in jail. Because of Ibrahim's tweets, his father was also accused of not reporting a terrorist act.
His paternal grandfather likewise had a prohibition on travel for 16 years. A 72-year-old man serving a life sentence would be 87 years old when he is released, and he would have to wait until he is 104 years old before he could return to the United States.
According to Ibrahim, Saudi officials pressured his family to keep silent and not engage the United States government. His family called the State Department back in March, and he claims that shortly afterward his father was tortured.
They manipulated me. They told me to stay quiet so they can get him out. I am not willing to take a gamble on the Department of State anymore.
- Ibrahim said while explaining his decision to go public
Because of the ascent of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is trying to liberalize and modernize the ultraconservative kingdom but has taken a harsh position against any criticism, the Saudi government has intensified its assault on dissent.