Saudi Arabian authorities on Monday released an American citizen sentenced to 19 years in prison for tweeting criticisms of the regime.
Saad Almadi, 72, was in prison for more than a year before his Monday release. Almadi confirmed his freedom during a phone call with his son, Ibrahim Almadi, according to the New York Post.
“I welcome the release of Saad Almadi, my father and best friend,” Ibrahim said. “As I always say, we are the strongest country in the world. We can protect our interests and citizens.”
While Almadi is no longer imprisoned, he is not yet free to leave the country as Saudi authorities have maintained a travel ban.
“Our fight is not over until Saad is back,” Almadi’s son added. “He needs medical attention in the states.”
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Almadi was a retired project manager in Florida and had sent tweets mildly criticizing the Saudi regime during his years in the U.S. He was arrested when taking a trip to the country to visit family.
During his time in the U.S., he had remarked on Twitter about the Saudi government’s failure to protect its citizens from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to the Post.
He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2022 and had been imprisoned for more than a year prior to his Monday release. A Saudi court had tacked on an additional three years to Almadi’s sentence in January, making his sudden release a surprise.
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Almadi’s release comes roughly a week after Saudi Arabia announced a relations agreement with Iran that had been negotiated with the help of China.
The U.S. has been heavily skeptical of the agreement, and of China’s involvement in the deal. China has recently made efforts to style itself as a global peacemaker, both with its deal in the Middle East and its recent calls for dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.
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