Saad Ibrahim Almadi: Saudi Arabia frees US-Saudi dual citizen from jail for posting tweets critical of kingdom

(CNN) Saudi Arabia exempts US-Saudi dual citizenship Saad Ibrahim Almadi From prison, more than a year after he was arrested for tweets critical of the kingdom, Almadi’s son Ibrahim told CNN.

Almadi was released at 2 a.m. local time on Tuesday and is currently in Riyadh under a travel ban, said his son, who lives in the United States.

The 72-year-old was jailed in Saudi Arabia after being sentenced to 16 years in prison for tweets critical of the Saudi government, the US State Department said in October.

“He wasn’t free as long as he was (in the U.S.),” his son said.

Neither Saudi nor U.S. officials immediately confirmed Almadi’s release, and it was unclear whether the kingdom would lift a travel ban on Almadi’s return to the United States.

CNN has reached out to the government of Saudi Arabia for comment.

Abdullah Alaoud, the Saudi director of The Freedom Initiative, a Washington-based advocacy group, welcomed Almadi’s release, saying “he should never spend a day behind bars for harmless tweets.”

Almadi was convicted by Saudi Arabia’s Special Criminal Court on 14 tweets criticizing the Saudi government that he posted while in the United States, the Independent Initiative reported, some of which date back seven years.

“There are people in Saudi custody who do not have the benefit of US citizenship. To draw attention to their cases, Almadi was wrongfully detained, allegedly tortured, and released only after a tireless campaign by his son and international pressure,” Alaoud said.

“The release of Almadi shows that strategic pressure is working, and U.S. officials must continue to press for the release of detainees and the lifting of travel restrictions,” Alaoud added.

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This story has been updated with additional information.

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