Saudi Arabia has freed a 72-year-old American citizen it had imprisoned for more than a year over old tweets critical of the kingdom’s crown prince, his son said, Report informs referring to AP.
Neither Saudi nor US officials immediately confirmed the release of Saad Almadi, a dual US-Saudi citizen and, until his imprisonment in Saudi Arabia, a longtime retiree in Florida. There had been word since last week of progress toward Almadi’s release.
Almadi on March 20 night was at home with family members who live in Riyadh, said his son, Ibrahim Almadi, in the United States. Saudi officials dropped all charges against the elder Almadi, Ibrahim Almadi and advocates familiar with the case said. But it was not immediately clear whether the kingdom would lift a travel ban it had imposed to follow the prison sentence to allow the elder Almadi to return to the United States.
The Florida man’s imprisonment over tweets had been one of several alleged human rights abuses that had soured relations between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Joe Biden. That included Saudi officials’ killing of a US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, and prison sentences and travel bans that Saudi Arabia under the crown prince’s tenure has given Saudi rights advocates and perceived rivals and critics of the powerful crown prince.
Saudi Arabia had sentenced Almadi last year to 16 years in prison, saying his critical tweets about how the kingdom was being governed amounted to terrorist acts against it.
As US officials worked to win his release, and after Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia last summer in an attempt to improve relations with the oil-rich nation, a Saudi appeals court increased Almadi’s prison sentence to 19 years.