State Department Responds to US Citizen Imprisoned in Saudi for Tweets

American citizen Saad Ibrahim Almadi remains imprisoned in Saudi Arabia after being sentenced to 16 years in prison for posting tweets critical of the Saudi government. 

The State Department confirmed that Almadi remains imprisoned in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. Almadi, 72, is a U.S.-Saudi dual citizen and was arrested in November 2021 upon landing in Riyadh. 

It comes after Almadi’s son publicly criticized the State Department for neglecting his 72-year-old father’s case. Almadi, a project manager from Florida, was detained last November after traveling to Riyadh to visit family. 

The tweets he was arrested for were posted on his account over the past seven years and largely rebuked the Saudi government’s policies and corruption.

Almadi was detained for 11 months without a trial and eventually sentenced to 16 years in prison followed by 16 years of house arrest. He was convicted of harboring a terrorist ideology and for trying to destabilize the kingdom. According to his son, US officials have confirmed to the family that Almadi has also been tortured.

His son said his father was “nowhere near being a dissident.” 

“My father is a senior American citizen who just wants to live freely and happily in the United States where he got his education,” his son, Ibrahim Almadi, said. 

At a press briefing yesterday, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that the U.S. has “consistently and intensively” raised concerns about the case at senior levels of the Saudi government. 

“Exercising the freedom of expression should never be criminalized,” Patel said. 

Patel also confirmed no State Department official was at the sentencing hearing and noted the Saudi government had moved the hearing date up without alerting anyone at the U.S. embassy or state department. 

His son Ibrahim Almadi called out the state department for the case, saying that if his father had been held in Russia or Iran, his name would be in the headlines every day. 

Ibrahim expressed intense frustration with the US government’s handling of his father’s case. After months of maintaining his silence – he claims at the US government’s behest – he accused the US of poorly managing the crisis. 

In Almadi’s case, prosecutors focused on 14 tweets that the American published over a seven-year period while he was living in Florida, including posts that referenced Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

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