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Saudi Arabia frees US citizen imprisoned over critical tweets

March 21, 2023 at 9:09 pm

72-year-old Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a joint Saudi-US citizen [Twitter]

Saudi Arabia has freed a dual US-Saudi national it had imprisoned for tweets critical of Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, his last tweet confirmed Tuesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The State Department said in October that it raised concerns about Saad Ibrahim Almadi directly with the Kingdom after he was taken into custody in November 2021. He was sentenced in October to 16 years in prison.

Ibrahim Almadi, the senior Almadi’s son, said his father remains in Saudi Arabia after being “kidnapped” in the Kingdom “because he had peacefully expressed himself online while here in the US”.

“For that simple exercise of his rights, he spent over one year and a half behind bars, enduring torture and neglect,” Almadi said in a statement. “Finally, our nightmare has come to an end. Dad was released last night and has been cleared of all charges. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many US government officials who pressured for my dad’s release. Your words and actions made a difference. ”

READ: Saudi Arabia pressured into releasing Saudi-American prisoner

Almadi, 72, was taken into custody when he travelled to Saudi Arabia to visit family, the Washington Post newspaper reported in October. At issue are 14 tweets he posted in the past seven years, including some that address Jamal Khashoggi, the Post‘s contributor, who was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The State Department has maintained Almadi was “wrongfully detained”, adding that “freedom of expression should never be criminalised”.