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Saudi Arabia: Appeals court upholds 20-year sentence of aid worker

Areej al-Sadhan says her brother Abdulrahman was tortured by Saudi officials and denied access to lawyers while in prison
Aid worker Abdulrahman al-Sadhan was sentenced to 20 years in prison and given a 20-year travel ban (Supplied)

An appeals court in Saudi Arabia upheld on Wednesday a lengthy prison sentence for an aid worker sentenced to 20 years in jail by a counter-terrorism court in Riyadh. 

Abdulrahman al-Sadhan was detained by Saudi Arabia in March 2018 and also given a 20-year travel ban, the US State Department said in April. 

The aid worker was arrested by Saudi officials at the Red Crescent Society's office in Riyadh. His sister, Areej al-Sadhan, said he was detained without a warrant or charges against him. 

His sister, a US citizen, condemned the ruling and said her family was "devastated" by the decision to uphold the sentence. 

Rights groups claim that he was detained after his anonymous Twitter account was hacked. 

"The appeal court issued to keep the initial ruling of the 20 years imprisonment followed by 20 years travel ban," Areej al-Sadhan tweeted on Tuesday. 

"Let me just remind you that the hearings were all held in secret without my brother having access to lawyers or his family. 

"Calls and visits were completely not allowed and prior to that my brother was under enforced disappearance for three years without any charge and was brutally tortured."

In April, MENA Rights Group said Al-Sadhan was taken to trial for running two satirical Twitter accounts and accused the aid worker of funding terrorism, supporting or sympathizing with the Islamic State group. 

U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said last month she was "deeply concerned" about the torture allegations.