Saudi Arabia has sentenced a US citizen to 16 years in prison over critical tweets about the kingdom’s regime, having been detained by authorities since November 2021.
Saad Ibrahim Almadi, 72, a dual US-Saudi national normally resident in Florida, was arrested after touching down in Riyadh for what was supposed to be a two-week stay in his native country. Almadi’s son Ibrahim said his father had been sentenced to 16 years in prison on October 3rd on charges of supporting terrorism.
US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel confirmed Almadi’s detention at a press briefing, and said that Washington had raised concerns with Riyadh in December 2021, when it became aware of the arrest, and again subsequently.
“We have consistently and intensively raised our concerns regarding the case at senior levels of the Saudi government … and we will continue to do so. We have raised this with members of the Saudi government as recently as yesterday,” Patel said.
The spokesperson offered no details of Almadi’s charges, but said: “Exercising the freedom of expression should never be criminalized.”
The case is now the second known incident of a Saudi national living abroad being arrested upon their return for social media posts made whilst outside the kingdom.
In August Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi national living in the UK and studying at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for “spreading rumors” and retweeting dissidents, in a case that drew international condemnation.