(Reuters) – DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – His son says that an American citizen was caught in Saudi Arabia, tortured, and given a 16-year prison sentence for tweets he sent from the United States.
Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a retired project manager from Florida who was 72 years old, was arrested in November while visiting family in the kingdom, and he was found guilty earlier this month, according to his son Ibrahim. This confirms what The Washington Post first reported about the case. Almadi is a citizen of both the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi officials couldn’t say anything quickly. The State Department’s deputy spokesperson, Vedant Patel, told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that Almadi had been arrested.
He said, “We have always and strongly voiced our concerns about this case to the highest levels of the Saudi government in both Riyadh and Washington, DC, and we will continue to do so.” “Yesterday, we talked about this with people from the Saudi government.”
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It seemed to be the latest in a long line of recent cases in which Saudis were given long prison terms for criticizing the government on social media.
With the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to open up and change the ultraconservative kingdom but has a hard line against any criticism, Saudi authorities have made it harder for people to speak out against the government.
A Saudi court recently gave a woman 45 years in prison because it was said that she used social media to hurt the country. A Saudi doctoral student at Leeds University in England was given 34 years in prison for spreading “rumors” and retweeting dissidents. This case made a lot of people angry around the world.