Washington is “disappointed” at the Saudi appeals court’s support for a 20-year prison sentence against an employee of the Red Crescent, named Al-Sadhan, simply for “peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. Al-Sadhan had criticized the Saudi regime on Twitter via a fake account before he was arrested in 2018.
Washington on Wednesday expressed its “disappointment” after an appeals court upheld Saudi A Red Crescent employee was sentenced to 20 years in prison for posting tweets on a fake Twitter account criticizing the Saudi leadership.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement: “We are disappointed” by the support for the sentence imposed on Saudi aid worker Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, which is “a 20-year prison sentence followed by an equal travel ban.”
Price stated that this penalty was imposed on this activist simply because he “peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression.”
“We have followed his case closely and are concerned about allegations that al-Sadhan was mistreated, that he was unable to communicate with his family, and that fair trial guarantees were not respected,” he added.
The spokesman pointed out that the US administration assured “Saudi officials at all levels that the peaceful exercise of universal rights should not be a crime punishable by law.”
“We will continue to strengthen the role of human rights in our relations with Saudi Arabia and encourage legal reforms that advance respect for the human rights of all individuals,” he added.
A fake name on Twitter to criticize the Saudi regime
Al-Sadhan is an employee of the Saudi Red Crescent who was arrested by Saudi intelligence while he was in his office in Riyadh in March 2018, according to his family.
According to Al-Sadhan’s family, he was arrested because he used a fictitious Twitter account to criticize the Saudi regime in the files of human rights and social justice.
In a tweet on Twitter published on Tuesday, his sister, Areej Al-Sadhan, who holds American citizenship and resides in San Francisco in the United States, confirmed that the Court of Appeals upheld the sentence issued against her brother, which is imprisonment for 20 years, followed by a travel ban for the same period.
During a sit-down organized last week in Washington, Al-Sadhan sharply criticized President Joe Biden, noting that she had hoped that the pressures of his administration would lead to the release of her brother, but her hope was dashed after the US President left Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “with impunity.” .
Al-Sadhan confirmed that her brother had been tortured. “They tortured him badly, they almost killed him. They broke his hand and smashed his fingers until they were mutilated, saying ‘Is this the hand you were tweeting with?'” she said.
“This is how Saudi officials responded to President Biden’s generosity by committing further human rights abuses,” she added.
A crackdown on regime critics and opponents
Under the supervision of the Crown Prince, the Saudi authorities are cracking down on critics and opponents of the regime, including the arrest of activists, journalists, clerics and members of the royal family. Biden vowed to intensify pressure on the kingdom in the file of human rights.
In February, Washington published a long-awaited intelligence report accusing the crown prince of having “authorized” the operation in which Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018. But Washington has not imposed any sanctions on the Saudi crown prince.
Last week, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met Prince Mohammed bin Salman and discussed with him the war in Yemen, in a meeting sharply criticized by human rights activists.