Saudi Arabia releases dual US-Saudi citizen who was imprisoned for posting critical tweets about the kingdom
By Mostafa Salem and Celine Alkhaldi, CNN
Saudi Arabia released US-Saudi dual national Saad Ibrahim Almadi from prison, more than a year after he was arrested for tweets critical of the kingdom, Almadi’s son, Ibrahim, told CNN.
Almadi was released at 2 a.m. local time on Tuesday and is currently in Riyadh under a travel ban, said his son, who is based in the US.
The 72-year-old had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia after being given a 16-year sentence for tweets critical of the Saudi government, the US State Department said in October.
“He is not free until he is in the (United) States,” his son said.
Neither Saudi nor US officials immediately confirmed the release of Almadi and it remains unclear whether the kingdom would lift a travel ban it had imposed to allow Almadi to return to the US.
CNN has reached out to Saudi Arabia’s government for comment.
Abdullah Alaoudh, the Saudi Director at The Freedom Initiative, a Washington-based advocacy group, welcomed Almadi’s release, saying “he should have never spend a day behind bars for innocuous tweets.”
Almadi was sentenced by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court over 14 tweets critical of the Saudi government that he posted while in the US, a Freedom Initiative statement said, adding that some of the tweets date back seven years.
“There are far too many people in Saudi detention who don’t have the benefit of US citizenship to draw attention to their cases. Almadi was wrongfully detained, reportedly tortured, and released only after tireless campaigning by his son and international pressure,” Alaoudh said.
“Almadi’s release shows that strategic pressure works, and US officials should continue to press for release of prisoners and lifting of travel bans,” Alaoudh added.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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