Saudi Arabia on Monday released a 72-year-old American citizen who had been jailed for more than a year over an old tweet criticizing the kingdom’s crown prince, his son said.
Neither Saudi nor U.S. officials immediately confirmed the release of Saad al-Madi, a dual U.S.-Saudi citizen and longtime Florida retired, until he was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Rumors have been circulating since last week about progress towards Almadi’s release.
On Monday night, Almadi was at home with his family in Riyadh, said his son Ibrahim Almadi, who is in the United States.
Saudi officials have dropped all charges against Al-Madi, said Ibrahim Al-Madi and supporters familiar with the case. However, it was not immediately clear whether the kingdom would lift the travel ban imposed to comply with the prison sentence to allow Almadi to return to the United States.
The Florida man’s imprisonment over a tweet was one of several alleged human rights violations that soured relations between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Biden. US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi officials inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. and the prison sentences and travel bans Saudi Arabia has imposed during the crown prince’s term on Saudi rights defenders it perceives as rivals and critics of the crown prince.
Prince Mohammed and the Biden administration have recently taken steps to restore better relations. The two countries are partners in a decades-long arrangement in which the United States provides security to Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich kingdom continues to supply global markets with oil.
Saudi Arabia sentenced al-Madi to 16 years in prison last year, saying his critical tweets about how the kingdom was governed amounted to acts of terrorism against it.
After U.S. officials tried to win his release and Mr. Biden visited Saudi Arabia last summer to improve relations with the oil-rich country, a Saudi appeals court sentenced al-Madi to 19 years in prison. extended to
Almadi, a former US project manager, was arrested in 2021 when he arrived for a two-week visit to meet his family in the Kingdom. Once in custody, he was confronted by Saudi authorities over tweets he had posted over the years from his home in Florida, his son said.
Almadi’s tweets included one referring to Crown Prince Salman’s consolidation of power within the kingdom, another containing a caricature of the prince, and a tweet referring to Khashoggi’s murder. US intelligence had previously concluded that the crown prince had authorized the assassination team that killed Khashoggi.
Abdullah Aloud, Saudi director of the Freedom Initiative, a US-based group that advocates for those deemed unjustly detained in the Middle East, said: “We are relieved that Saad Almadi has been released, but he I shouldn’t have spent a day late,” he said. A bar of harmless tweets. ”
Aloud urged the United States to continue calling for the release of all rights defenders and others detained in Saudi Arabia.
The Freedom Initiative says at least four U.S. citizens and one legal permanent resident are already detained in Saudi Arabia under the travel ban, and at least one elderly U.S. citizen remains imprisoned. increase. Many of the travel bans were aimed at dual nationals claiming greater rights in the Kingdom, such as Saudi women’s driving rights.
Ibrahim Almadi said his father lost a lot of weight in prison and his health deteriorated significantly.