Family: Saudi Arabia jails American for tweets

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (HPD) — An American citizen has been arrested, tortured and sentenced to 16 years in prison in Saudi Arabia for tweets he sent while in the United States, his son said Tuesday.

Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a 72-year-old retired project manager and Florida resident, was arrested in November while visiting the kingdom and was sentenced a few days ago, Ibrahim’s son told The Associated Press, confirming details initially reported by the Washington Post. Almadi has dual Saudi-American citizenship.

So far there has been no comment from Saudi or US authorities.

Ibrahim said his father was detained for 14 “innocuous tweets” he sent over the past seven years, mostly criticizing government policies and corruption. He added that father is not an activist but an ordinary citizen expressing his views in the United States, where freedom of expression is a constitutional right.

It appears to be the latest case of Saudi citizens receiving lengthy jail terms for social media posts critical of the government.

Saudi authorities have stepped up their crackdown on dissent since the rise of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who seeks to open up the ultra-conservative kingdom but has taken a hard line against any criticism.

Ibrahim said his father was sentenced to 16 years in prison on October 3, accused of supporting terrorism. He is also accused of failing to report terrorist acts, referring to tweets Ibrahim sent.

In addition, the father was prohibited from leaving the country for 16 years. Thus, the father would be 87 years old when he would be released from prison and he would not be able to return to the United States until he was 104 years old.

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