Saudi Arabia Releases US Citizen Jailed Over Tweets Against Kingdom
Saudi Arabia has released a US citizen from prison more than a year after convicting him over tweets critical of the kingdom, according to the BBC. Saad Ibrahim Almadi, 72, was initially sentenced in October last year to 16 years in jail for tweets criticising Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. An appeals court had increased the jail term to 19 years last month, the BBC report further said, adding that the US as well as Saudi authorities have not commented on his release yet.
His son Ibrahim confirmed the news and said Saad Almadi was at a family house in Riyadh. He, however, pointed out that the family needs to now fight a travel ban.
“All charges have been dropped but we have to fight the travel ban now,” Ibrahim was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.
Mr Almadi was found guilty of trying to destabilise the kingdom and also accused of supporting terrorism. The Saudis had imposed a 16-year travel ban on him.
According to the BBC, Mr Almadi had criticised the demolition of old parts of the cities of Mecca and Jeddah, expressed concern over poverty in the kingdom and also made a reference to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his tweets.
Mr Almadi, who also has Saudi citizenship, was arrested in November 2021 when he arrived in Riyadh from Florida to visit his family.
US President Joe Biden had raised the issue of Mr Almadi’s arrest when he visited Saudi Arabia in July 2022.
The death of Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post, triggered outrage in Washington although then US President Donald Trump boasted of saving the powerful Saudi crown prince from major repercussions.
President Joe Biden declassified intelligence that showed that the crown prince ordered the killing and vowed to get tougher, including over Saudi Arabia’s deadly offensive in Yemen.