Saudis release US citizen jailed 19 years for tweets


WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia has released from prison the 72-year-old US citizen who had been sentenced to 19 years behind bars for tweets mildly critical of the kingdom’s crown prince.

Saad Almadi, who was imprisoned for over a year, called his son Ibrahim Almadi Monday to let him know that was freed by the government of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the younger Almadi told The Post.

But on the phone call, the elder Almadi also broke the bad news that he won’t be allowed to leave the country due to a continued travel ban.

He will be staying at a family residence in Riyadh until he’s allowed to leave the country.

“I welcome the release of Saad Almadi, my father and best friend,” Ibrahim said. “As I always say, we are the strongest country in the world. We can protect our interests and citizens.”

He added, “Our fight is not over until Saad is back… He needs medical attention in the states.”

Ibrahim Almadi (L), posing with his father, Saad before Saad was sent to jail by Saudi Arabia.

Saad Almadi, a retired engineer who moved to the US in the 1970s, was detained during a November 2021 trip from Florida, where he wrote the tweets, to Saudi Arabia to sell property.

The offending tweets that landed Almadi in prison included remarks that Saudi officials were failing to protect against rocket fire from Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen.

He also encouraged fellow Saudis by birth to get Lebanese citizenship and wrote that he approved of Washington, DC, renaming a street after Jamal Khashoggi, the former Washington Post columnist who the US intelligence community believes was murdered on the crown prince’s orders in 2018.

Saad Almadi lost 80 pounds during his year and a half in prison, his son says.

He lost about 80 pounds behind bars living in inhumane conditions, his son said.

The release puzzlingly came only a month after three additional years were added to his prison sentence by a Saudi appeals court.

It’s unclear why the Saudi government under the crown prince, who is widely known by his initials MBS, relented or if the release was part of some larger agreement.

The development coincides with a series of other developments in US-Saudi relations, including the Senate confirmation Wednesday of Michael Ratney to be the US ambassador to Riyadh after the post was left vacant for two years.

Saad Almadi won’t be allowed to return to Florida due to a new Saudi exit ban.
Courtesy of Ibrahim Almadi

Also last Tuesday, US plane-maker Boeing agreed to sell up to 121 jets to the upstart Saudi airline Riyadh Air and national carrier Saudia Airlines.

It also comes amid other Saudi power plays, such as agreeing to a Chinese-brokered deal Friday to restore diplomatic relations with Iran — working with two top US strategic adversaries.

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