US citizen sentenced to six-year prison term in Saudi Arabia: report

US citizen sentenced to six-year prison term in Saudi Arabia: report
© Getty Images

A dual U.S.-Saudi citizen was sentenced to six years in prison in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on charges that include illegally obtaining U.S. citizenship, The Washington Post reported

Saudi Arabia sentenced Walid Fitaihi, who was arrested in November 2017, on charges of obtaining citizenship in the U.S. without official permission and tweeting support for the 2011 Arab Spring protests, a person close to Fitaihi’s family told the Post.

Two U.S. diplomats were present in the Saudi capital of Riyadh at Fitaihi’s hearing resulting in the sentencing, which he has 30 days to appeal. Saudi Arabia also instituted another six-year travel ban for him, his wife and six children, although all are U.S. citizens, according to the family source.

ADVERTISEMENT

The sentencing took place even though President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE’s administration has vocally requested Saudi Arabia let Fitaihi go and allow his family to leave the country.

The president typically refrains from criticizing Saudi Arabia, but his officials appealed for Fitaihi’s release both publicly and privately, people briefed with the discussions told the Post. 

Fitaihi, who founded a prominent hospital in Saudi Arabia, was arrested along with hundreds of business executives, government officials and royal family members in 2017. His family members said he was held in custody without trial for almost two years and was tortured. Saudi officials deny he was tortured in custody. 

Last year, Fitaihi was released from custody although authorities kept him and his family under a travel ban. 

In October, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE said U.S. and Saudi officials “discussed our concerns about American citizens, and we asked for listing the travel ban on Dr. Fitaihi.”

Fitaihi, a motivational speaker and television host, is one of at least three Americans in custody in Saudi Arabia, including Salah al Haidar, the son of a Saudi women’s rights activist, and Bader al Ibrahim, a physician and writer, according to the Post.