American citizen tortured in Saudi prison for tweets he made in Florida criticizing Saudi government

Originally published at: American citizen tortured in Saudi prison for tweets he made in Florida criticizing Saudi government | Boing Boing


So now that US citizens no longer get a pass for criticizing the Saudi government, are we finally going to start condemning their bullshit like we do with Iran?


Sadly the answer to that is probably the same as it’s always been: only when it’s politically convenient.

Biden vowed to treat the country as a “pariah” following the murder of US resident Jamal Khashoggi, but still ended up meeting with MBS and playing nice (including giving him a fist-bump) last July in an attempt to get S.A. to pump more oil. That was controversial at the time and widely criticized even by former Obama officials, but it seems to be something that most Presidents feel compelled to do.

Since S.A. and OPEC recently told the US to go pound sand when it comes to fuel prices maybe the US will get more vocal in its criticism again. But it probably won’t last, as least as long as petroleum remains such a big part of the world economy.


I’m surprised that the Saudi’s didn’t give him the Jamal Khashoggi bone-saw treatment.


Fuck the Saudi Royal family.

(You know I’m sure as hell not ever planning to go there unless there is total regime change.)


“Our Partners in Peace”


All hail the double OBJ.

The portents are clear…

The end is nigh.


The Saudi regime’s actions are consistently repugnant to human rights. This must change.

That being said, Saad seriously misjudged the situation when he returned to Saudi Arabia. He has dual nationality which means he’s subject to their evil “laws” while there even if they conflict with US law. Also the fact that he was in Florida when he tweeted seems irrelevant here. Culpability for a tweet is not confined to the jurisdiction that you’re in when you post it.

To be clear, I’m not victim blaming. He is in no way responsible for the imprisonment and torture the Saudi’s inflicted on him. I just wish he’d made a different choice.

From The Guardian article…His two Twitter accounts show Saad felt at home in America. Ibrahim said his father was simply exercising his freedom of speech when he published critical tweets. While he was aware of the Saudi crackdown on dissent, Ibrahim said his father felt safe traveling back to Saudi for a short visit, both because of his American citizenship and because he was part of a tribe that was considered well-connected in Saudi society.


I don’t see it as being any more or less unjust than the many thousands of brutal political persecutions carried out against the S.A. citizens who don’t happen to also have U.S. citizenship. My reaction to those cases isn’t “I wish those folks hadn’t chosen to criticize their government.” My reaction is “those poor folks deserve a better, more just government and I hope they find a way to get it.”



I suppose you could have read it that way if you wanted to. That wasn’t the different choice I was referring to. I wish he hadn’t chosen to return to Saudi Arabia.

Funny how America is all about forcing regime changes in oil producing countries with governments that are evil. Yet Saudi Arabia always gets a free pass no matter what. Maybe someday in the distant future we’ll learn the real reasons why. It’s one of the most unambiguously evil regimes since the Nazis, and America could roll in there with five tanks and get rid of them in an afternoon. Yet here we are, decade after decade.


Interestingly, the US does not officially recognize dual citizenship (as many of us Canadians know and deal with regularly). This means if the US wanted to help him, they have the perfect cover to do so.

When you gain US citizenship, they make you take an oath saying you have renounced all other citizenships, allegiances, loyalties, etc. Of course nobody actually renounces their old citizenship when they take that oath and the US has no authority to revoke citizenship in other countries. So this oath is what they can do, but it’s all hand waving.

What that does mean though, is that all dual-citizens of the US are US citizens only in the eyes of US law and are treated as such. So choosing not to help Saad because “he’s a Saudi national” is actually some pretty hypocritical BS by the US government.


Kenan Thompson Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live

I think some of the old Kirkpatrick doctrine is still at work in American foreign policy, especially with regards to the ME… and of course, Kissinger still dominates FP thinking, too. And let’s not forget the racist idea that “these people” are not ready or remotely fit for democracy, so letting autocrats rule over them is seen as okay. Some people will point to post-Mubarak Egypt as an example of what happens when you let the “wrong” people have democracy… But the Muslim Brotherhood got into office because while liberals spent years ignoring the hinterlands outside of their cozy Cairo/Alexandria neighborhoods, the MB spent years building up good will by actually helping people suffering the worst impacts of Mubarak’s neo-liberal agenda.

“Kissinger said / we don’t have friends / America only has interests…” - Road to Peace Tom Waits


I agree with much of your sentiment overall and know you’re being a bit hyperbolic here but I don’t think that the difficulty (and moral quandary) of any military engagement should ever be underestimated. S.A.‘s active-duty military is larger than that of Mexico or France, and they’ve got plenty of advanced weaponry that we’ve been selling them over the decades.

There are obviously a lot of steps that can be taken that lie somewhere between “buy all their oil and sell them whatever weapons they want” and “war to force regime change.”


Furthermore, we have an ongoing example of a country that decided to invade another country after massively underestimating its military prowess.

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Not just selling them equipment, but training them to use it at a high level.

The US sells military equipment and systems all over the place, but it’s a short list that gets expert training the way the Saudis do.


I’m often amazed that weapons exporters like the US and Russia (apparently) don’t include features that would allow us to remotely disable the high-tech weapons if and when they end up in enemy hands, or when former allies become enemies. I’ve been worried for a while that even just one of the thousands of NLAWs and similar weapons flooding Ukraine could eventually end up in the wrong hands and be used by terrorists to take down a commercial plane or something. And the number of formerly Russian tanks that have been successfully commandeered by the Ukrainian army seems to indicate that Russia doesn’t have a remote disable feature on their stuff either.


With the Saudis, it’s more about the fighter jets. Those might have remote disable capability.


Even if Russian tanks could be disabled remotely, Ukrainian mechanics could simply re-enable them by hot-wiring the ignition. They are not “smart” devices where everything is computerised.

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