Saudi Arabia releases US man sentenced for 19 years over tweets


Saudi Arabia has released a 72-year-old US citizen who was sentenced to 19 years for tweets he posted criticizing the kingdom.

Ibrahim Almadi, the son of Arab-American Saad Ibrahim Almadi, told Reuters his father called him on Monday to give him the news.

Despite dropping all the charges, the government of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the prime minister and de facto ruler in the kingdom, will not allow the elder Almadi to leave the country and a travel ban will remain in place.

“All the charges have been dropped but we have to fight the travel ban now,” said his son Ibrahim.

For now, Alamadi will stay in the family home in Riyadh until he is allowed to leave the country.

“I welcome the release of Saad Almadi, my father and my best friend,” Ibrahim said. “Our fight will not end until Saad is back… he needs treatment in the States.”

Saad, a project manager from Florida, was detained in 2021 at Riyadh airport when he traveled to Saudi Arabia to visit family.

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He was accused of fostering a terrorist ideology, trying to destabilize the kingdom, as well as supporting and financing terrorism in connection with 14 tweets he posted on his account while in the United States over the past seven years .

One of the tweets referred to Jamal Khashoggi, a Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist who was murdered by Saudi agents in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Other tweets included criticism of corruption within the kingdom.

Almadi’s release comes just a month after a Saudi appeals court added an additional three years to his prison sentence.

It remains unclear why the MBS government decided to release Almadi or whether it is part of a wider deal with the US.

Saudi Arabia has been regularly accused by rights groups of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in its jails, which they say has worsened since Mohammed bin Salman became the kingdom’s de facto ruler in 2015.

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