Nancy Pelosi stressed in a tweet on Sunday she was deeply concerned by the allegations of torture of a Saudi aid worker while in detention in Saudi Arabia, Axios reports.
The US House of Representatives speaker said aid worker Abdulrahman al-Sadhan’s sentencing continues Saudi Arabia’s assault on freedom of expression and warned that the Congress would monitor his appeal hearing scheduled on Monday as well as all human rights abuses by the regime.
According to an April 6 US State Department’s statement, al-Sadhan was arrested by Saudi authorities in March 2018 from the Red Crescent Society office in Riyadh, where he worked, and sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by a 20-year travel ban.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed in April Biden administration’s concerns about al-Sadhan’s sentencing, pointing that exercising human rights should never be a punishable offense.
According to Geneva-based advocacy NGO MENA Rights Group’s statement in April, al-Sadhan was arrested for running two satirical Twitter accounts and accused of ‘funding terrorism, supporting or sympathising with the ISIS armed group, and preparing, storing and sending messages that would prejudice public order and religious values’.
The rights group alleges that during his first year in detention, he was held in a secret location where he was subjected to severe torture and sexual harassment.
Al-Sadhan’s family also claims Abdulrahman was subjected to severe torture in detention, including among other electric shocks, flogging, hanging from the feet and threats of murder and beheading.
Meanwile, Areej al-Sadhan, Abdulrahman ’s sister has warned that his health is deteriorating under torture in Saudi detention and informed that they’re completely deprived of any contact with him.
In light of the news that Saudi authorities have detained a number of senior royals, activists, intellectuals and Muslim scholars last month, critics in the US have blasted President Biden’s administration for continuing to maintain close economic and security ties with the Kingdom.
Biden’s election pledge was to pursue a relationship recalibration with the US longtime ally after the accusations that former US President Trump’s close relationship with Riyadh has further emboldened Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, who has sought to crush dissent in the kingdom in recent years.