A US citizen served 16 years in a Saudi Arabian prison for tweets, his son says

A US citizen who went to Saudi Arabia to visit his family was reportedly given a 16-year prison sentence for posting tweets critical of the Saudi government. The sentence was handed down to 72-year-old Saad Ibrahim Almadi, his second son, Ibrahim Almadi.

Ibrahim Almadi spoke to several news outlets about the sentence handed down to his father, who reportedly holds US and Saudi citizenship and has lived in the United States since the 1970s. He claims that his father was tortured in the Saudi prison and that the US State Department mishandled the case. The punishment was due to tweets expressing “discrete views on the government,” his son said.

President Biden “sold my father for oil,” Ibrahim Almadi told the New York Post. “Biden only cares about grades. He doesn’t care about my father, he doesn’t care about American citizens.” (Almadi also said he was a Democrat who voted for Biden.)

The tweets that took Saad Ibrahim Almadi to a Saudi prison were posted while he was in the United States, the Washington Post wrote yesterday. Almadi was arrested when he went to Riyadh to visit his family in November 2021 and was sentenced almost a year later on October 3.

No dissident, Almadi is “simply a project manager”

The Washington Post report says:

Almadi is not a dissident or an activist; he is simply a Florida project manager who has decided to exercise his right to free speech in the United States … “he had what I would call mild views on the government,” his son Ibrahim told me. “They took him away from the airport.”

Almadi was accused of harboring a terrorist ideology, trying to destabilize the kingdom, as well as supporting and financing terrorism. He was also accused of failing to report terrorism, an allegation related to tweets Ibrahim posted on a separate account.

Ibrahim Almadi said his father received two prison visits from US officials, the first six months after his arrest. Almadi also criticized the US response to her father’s detention in a BBC interview:

He told the BBC that he believes there are double standards on Saudi Arabia, saying the US would take firm action if a citizen was detained in Russia or Iran. “But if you are held in Saudi Arabia, a barrel of oil is worth more than you, habibi,” she said.

A US State Department source told the BBC when asked about Saad’s case during President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia that he had no more duty than to protect US citizens overseas, but that couldn’t comment further.

Ibrahim Almadi said his father visited Saudi Arabia without thinking about his old Twitter posts. The tweets presented as evidence “included writing that officials were unable to protect national borders amidst rocket firing by Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, encouraging people to obtain Lebanese citizenship and endorsing the idea. to name a street after [the murdered journalist Jamal] Khashoggi, “according to the New York Post. The tweets also included” criticism of the demolition of old parts of the cities of Mecca and Jeddah “and” concern over poverty in the kingdom, “the BBC wrote.

The United States “told Ibrahim not to speak publicly”

Almadi has reportedly received both a 16-year prison sentence and a 16-year travel ban to apply after his release. He would have to live to the age of 104 to return to the United States if his sentence is not reduced.

“I feel empty inside. I feel dead inside. I feel betrayed,” Ibrahim Almadi told the Washington Post. “He’s not just my dad, he’s my best friend. He’s everything to me.”

Ibrahim Almadi initially worked behind the scenes, urging the US government to intervene. But he is speaking now that the sentence has been passed. “The State Department has told Ibrahim not to speak publicly about the case, but he no longer believes that keeping quiet will ensure his father’s freedom. And it says the state has handled his father’s case with negligence and incompetence,” he wrote. the Washington Post.

Ibrahim Almadi says he told the State Department that the sentencing hearing was scheduled for October 3 but that no US officials attended.

“A senior State Department official confirmed that the consular affairs office in Washington did not notify the embassy when the hearing date was brought forward, even though Ibrahim had informed them,” the Washington Post wrote. “‘Unfortunately, that information was not passed on [to the embassy]’the official said. ‘This is something we deeply regret.’ “

This official also reportedly said the Biden administration has raised Almadi’s case with the Saudi government at the highest levels. But the State Department is still determining whether Almadi will be designated as “wrongfully detained,” a designation that could increase US efforts to free him.

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