Saad Ibrahim Almadi, a 72-year-old U.S.-Saudi dual citizen, arrested in 2021 for criticizing the Saudi government on social media, has been released, according to his son. 

Almadi was arrested after landing in Riyadh in November 2021, on a trip to visit family, after criticizing the Saudi government over the Yemen war, demolition work in Mecca and Jeddah, and taxes. Almadi also criticized the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Almadi was charged with supporting terrorism and working to destabilize the kingdom. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison at his 2022 trial, but that sentence was increased to 19 years after he appealed. 

The U.S. government protested Almadi’s arrest and conviction, and U.S. President Joe Biden brought up the man’s case for discussion during his last visit to Saudi Arabia. 

Neither the Saudi government nor the U.S. government confirmed Almadi’s release, but his son, Ibrahim Almadi, who lives in Florida, said his father was at a family apartment in Riyadh. 

“Finally, our nightmare has come to an end. Dad was released last night and has been cleared of all charges,” Ibrahim said. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many U.S. government officials who pressured for my dad’s release. Your words and actions made a difference.” 

The elder Almadi, who has several health problems, is still under a travel ban and cannot leave the country. 

“He needs to come get his medical treatment from the U.S.,” his son said. 

Ibrahim said that he intends to lobby for his father’s return to the United States, so he can receive treatment for medical issues, including back problems and diabetes. 

Several human rights groups have criticized Saudi Arabia over issuing harsh sentences for social media posts critical of the government. Saad Almadi made his critical social media posts while residing in the U.S., which has more robust freedom of speech laws. 

Ibrahim Almadi accused the Saudi government of “kidnapping” his father “because he had peacefully expressed himself online while here in the U.S.”

According to Ibrahim, his father has been instructed not to discuss the case. 

“They made him sign a paper to not go public and not talk about his release,” Ibrahim said. “I’m the one who is talking about this one, because I want to increase the pressure to bring him back home.” 

The U.S. government has been trying to improve relations with the Saudi government, and it is not clear whether Almadi’s release is part of an agreement between the two countries. 

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