Saudi Arabia Releases U.S. National Almadi From Prison, Says Son

RIYADH (Reuters) —
President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrive for the family photo during the Jeddah Security and Development Summit (GCC+3) at a hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

Saudi authorities released on Tuesday a U.S. citizen sentenced for 19 years for posting criticism of the government on Twitter but he remains banned from traveling, his son said, as the kingdom moves to ease tension with the United States.

Saad Ibrahim Almadi, 72, was sentenced for 16 years by a criminal court in 2022 and an appeals court increased his sentence to 19 years last month.

His son, Ibrahim, told Reuters his father was at his home in Riyadh with his family.

“All charges have been dropped but we have to fight the travel ban now,” Ibrahim said.

The Saudi government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no immediate reaction from the White House or the U.S. State Department.

Almadi, a dual U.S.-Saudi national who had been living in retirement in Florida, was arrested after landing in Riyadh in November 2021 on several charges, including funding terrorism and working to destabilize the kingdom.

His case, along with those of other U.S. citizens who remain under a travel ban in Saudi Arabia, had added to an already strained relationship between the two traditional allies.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he had raised the cases during meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he visited Saudi Arabia in July.

In October, Biden vowed there would be consequences for Riyadh after the OPEC+ oil alliance, led by Saudi Arabia and which includes Russia, decided to cut output targets.

But both sides have been working to improve ties recently.

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