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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An American citizen has been arrested, tortured and sentenced to 16 years in prison in Saudi Arabia. His son said on Tuesday over a tweet he sent while he was in the United States.

Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a 72-year-old retired project manager from Florida, was arrested last November while visiting family in the Kingdom and was sentenced earlier this month, his son Ibrahim told The Associated Press. Washington Post.Almadi is a citizen of both Saudi Arabia and the United States

There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials.

Vedant Patel, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, confirmed Almadi’s detention on Tuesday to reporters in Washington.

“We have consistently and intensively raised concerns about this incident at the senior levels of the Saudi government through channels in both Riyadh and Washington, D.C., and will continue to do so,” he said. rice field. “I brought this up yesterday with members of the Saudi government.”

It appeared to be the latest in a string of recent cases in which Saudis have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for social media posts critical of the government.

Saudi authorities have stepped up their crackdown on dissent in the wake of the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seeks to open up and transform the ultra-conservative kingdom, but has adopted a hard line against any criticism.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – SEPTEMBER 27: The new chairman of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Council of Ministers meets with King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia (unseen) on September 27, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A new cabinet, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was appointed chairman of the Council of Ministers and Khalid bin Salman as defense minister. (Photo Credit: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout / Getty Images via Anadolu Agency)

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A Saudi court recently sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison for allegedly damaging the country through her social media activities. A Saudi PhD student at the University of Leeds in the UK has drawn international outrage when she was sentenced to 34 years in prison for spreading “rumors” and retweeting dissidents.

Ibrahim said his father was detained for 14 “light tweets” posted on Twitter over the past seven years, most of which criticized government policies and alleged corruption. His father was not an activist, but a private citizen who voiced his views while in the United States, where free speech is a constitutional right.

President Joe Biden said in July that he traveled to the oil-rich kingdom to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed and confronted him about human rights. The 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi marked a sharp turn from Mr. Biden’s earlier vows to make the kingdom an “outcast.”

Ibrahim said his father was sentenced to 16 years in prison on October 3 for sponsoring terrorism. His father was also charged with failing to report terrorism over a tweet posted by Ibrahim.

His father also received a 16-year travel ban. If the sentence is served, the 72-year-old man will be 87 when he is released and will be barred from returning to the United States unless he reaches 104.

Ibrahim said Saudi authorities warned his family to keep quiet about the incident and not get involved with the US government. He said his father was tortured after his family contacted the State Department in March.

Ibrahim also accused the State Department of ignoring his case by not declaring his father a “wrongfully detained” American.

“They manipulated me. They told me to keep quiet so they could kick him out. I’m not going to bet any more on the State Department.”

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