Saudi Arabia increased 72-year-old American citizen Saad Almadi's sentence for anti-government tweets from 16 to 19 years after the Biden administration publicly condemned the Saudis for imprisoning Almadi.
"It's not a slap in the face, it's a middle finger," Almadi's son Ibrahim told the New York Post. "When the U.S. asked for an appeal, they said, 'Here you go, 19 years!'"
The Saudi judicial system on Oct. 3, 2022, charged Almadi, a dual citizen of the United States and Saudi Arabia, for 14 tweets that criticized Saudi government policies. He had posted all the tweets while in the United States over the last seven years. White House spokesmen have repeatedly condemned the imprisonment, but they have done little to actually help Almadi, his son said.
President Joe Biden's weak handling of Saudi-American relations received widespread criticism after his trip last summer to the Middle Eastern country focused solely on rising gas prices, ignoring the country's human rights abuses. The trip brought further embarrassment to the Biden administration when the Saudi-led oil supplier OPEC ignored the president's pleas and cut oil production in October.
Despite Ibrahim Almadi's appeals, the State Department has refused to officially designate his father as "wrongfully detained," the Post reported.
"The only way for my father to get out is through 'wrongful detention' … that’s how [WNBA star] Brittney Griner got out … that's what works with dictators," Almadi said.
"We can protect our interests in that region and we can protect our senior American citizen taxpayer too," Almadi said when the Post asked if he had a message for Biden. "My father needs to be declared wrongfully detained and released from prison—or otherwise his blood will be on your hands."