Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia releases US man sentenced for 19 years over tweets

Saudi-American Saad Ibrahim Almadi is still not allowed to leave the country after being released from prison
Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a 72-year-old project manager from Florida, was detained in 2021 at Riyadh's airport when he travelled to visit family (AP)

Saudi Arabia has released from prison a 72-year-old US citizen who was sentenced to 19 years over tweets he posted criticising the kingdom. 

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

Despite dropping all 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. 

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

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

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


“I welcome the release of Saad Almadi, my father and best friend,” Ibrahim said. “Our fight is not over until Saad is back… He needs medical attention in the States.”

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

Saudi Arabia: US citizen jailed for 16 years over tweets was tortured, says son
Read More »

He was charged with harbouring a terrorist ideology, trying to destabilise the kingdom, as well as supporting and funding terrorism in connection with 14 tweets he had posted on his account while in the US over the previous seven years. 

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

Other tweets included criticism of corruption inside the kingdom.

Almadi's release comes only a month after three additional years were added to his prison sentence by a Saudi appeals court.

It's not yet clear why MBS' government has decided to release Almadi or whether it's part of a wider agreement with the US.

Saudi Arabia is regularly accused by rights groups over the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in its jails, something they say has become worse since Mohammed bin Salman became de facto ruler of the kingdom in 2015.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.