Dubai (AP): An American citizen has been arrested in Saudi Arabia, tortured and sentenced to 16 years in prison over tweets he sent while in the United States, his son said Tuesday.
Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a 72-year-old retired project manager living in Florida, was arrested last November while visiting family in the kingdom and was sentenced earlier this month, his son Ibrahim told The Associated Press, confirming details that were first reported by the Washington Post. Almadi is a citizen of both Saudi Arabia and the US.
There was no immediate comment from Saudi or US officials.
It appeared to be the latest in a series of recent cases in which Saudis received long jail sentences for social media posts critical of the government.
Saudi authorities have tightened their crackdown on dissent following the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is seeking to open up and transform the ultraconservative kingdom but has adopted a hard line toward any criticism.
A Saudi court recently sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison for allegedly damaging the country through her social media activity. A Saudi doctoral student at Leeds University in England was sentenced to 34 years for spreading rumors and retweeting dissidents, a case that drew international outrage.
Ibrahim says his father was detained over 14 mild tweets sent over the past seven years, mostly criticizing government policies and alleged corruption. He says his father was not an activist but a private citizen expressing his opinion while in the U.S., where freedom of speech is a constitutional right.
President Joe Biden traveled to the oil-rich kingdom in July for a meeting with Prince Mohammed, in which he said he confronted him about human rights. Their meeting and a widely criticized fist-bump marked a sharp turnaround from Biden's earlier vow to make the kingdom a pariah over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Ibrahim said his father was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Oct. 3 on charges of supporting terrorism. The father was also charged with failing to report terrorism, over tweets that Ibrahim had posted.
His father was also slapped with a 16-year travel ban. If the sentence is carried out, the 72-year-old would be 87 upon his release and barred from returning home to the U.S. unless he reaches the age of 104.
Ibrahim said Saudi authorities warned his family to stay quiet about the case and to not involve the U.S. government. He said his father was tortured after the family contacted the State Department in March.
Ibrahim also accused the State Department of neglecting his father's case by not declaring him a wrongfully detained American, which would elevate his file.
They manipulated me. They told me to stay quiet so they can get him out," Ibrahim said, explaining his decision to go public this week. I am not willing to take a gamble on the Department of State anymore.
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Kanpur (UP), Dec 3: A 17-year-old vegetable vendor lost his leg after being run over by a train while he was collecting his belongings allegedly thrown on a track by police personnel during an anti-encroachment drive here.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Vijay Dhull told PTI that Head Constable Rakesh Kumar has been placed under suspension.
Police initiated an inquiry after several purported videos surfaced online showing the boy lying on the tracks asking for help as policemen and people try to rescue him, a senior official said.
"Prima facie, it appears Kumar showed negligent behaviour," Dhull said, adding that Assistant Commissioner of Police (Kalyanpur) Vikas Pandey has been asked to conduct the inquiry and submit a report at the earliest.
Police personnel had thrown a container of the victim, identified as Arsalan alias Irfan of Rawatpur area, and when he had gone on the railway track to pick it up, he was run over by a train on Friday, Dhull said.
Arsalan lost his right leg and suffered serious injuries to his left leg. He was taken to the Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital from where he was shifted to the SGPGIMS where a surgery was performed on Saturday, he said.
Dhull confirmed that several purported videos of the incident have gone viral and police are trying to obtain the mobile clips and pictures. These will help police to establish the sequence of events, he said.
Interacting with reporters, a local, who identified himself as Mohammad Shanu, claimed that the victim lost his leg after being hit by a train when he was collecting his weighing scale thrown on the tracks by police during an anti-encroachment drive.
The victim's father Saleem, an auto-rickshaw driver, told media persons that his son's leg were severed on the spot.
A vegetable vendor thrown on Rail track by police. Gets run over by train & loses his legs. A a stray incident police brutality? No. An un-empathetic system fails to help poor earn livelihood wth dignity. Then acts so cruelly? @PMOIndia; https://t.co/iHpOGc7TZr via @YouTube;— Jitendra Kumar Ojha (@Ojha_Jkumar) December 3, 2022