House lawmakers demand Saudis release political prisoners detained for tweeting

House lawmakers sent a letter to Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday demanding that he release all political prisoners being held in his country who were detained after tweeting, days after Riyadh released a woman who was initially arrested for posting tweets critical of the top leader.

The letter — which was first shared with The Hill — slammed bin Salman for infringing on the rights of Saudi Arabian citizens and accused him of undermining “global political freedom.” The lawmakers labeled his detainments “barbaric prosecutions.”

“When you initially came to power, you spoke of making Saudi Arabia more open and tolerant. You promised to reform harsh laws and policies preventing the country’s progress. We had high hopes you were serious,” the group wrote. “Instead, not only have you further trampled on your own citizens’ rights to free thought and free speech, but you have undermined the essential freedoms that sovereign democratic countries strive to protect for our citizens. These outrages undermine global political freedom.”

“We condemn your barbaric prosecutions and call on you immediately to order the release of every individual you have detained and incarcerated for sending tweets,” they added.

The request — led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and signed by 21 Democrats and one Republican — was sent almost one week after news broke that dual Saudi-U.S. citizen Saad Ibrahim Almadi had been freed after being imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for more than a year over tweets that were critical of bin Salman. The American, however, was put under a travel ban, and it remains unclear if the kingdom will drop the prohibition and let him return to Florida.

Almadi, 72, was detained when he arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2021 for a family visit and then sentenced to 19 years in prison because of social media posts he made in the past that were critical of how the kingdom was ruled.

The lawmakers on Monday told bin Salman they were “relieved to learn Mr. Almadi has been released from this Orwellian nightmare after widespread protest,” adding that they “early await word of whether your government will lift the travel ban to let Mr. Almadi return to his home in the United States.”

Source: The Hill