US citizen given 16-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia over tweets after State Dept. bungles case: family
The family of a U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since late 2016 over tweeting images of a young woman from her jail cell said on Thursday that they hoped the sentence would be reversed when he receives a formal letter from the U.S. government.
Mohammad al-Asiri, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen who worked in Saudi media for a decade and was arrested in June 2016 after tweeting images of female detainees, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a Saudi court on Thursday. The sentence is the third time al-Asiri has been jailed in Saudi Arabia, and the first time he has been charged with an offense in relation to his tweets.
Al-Asiri’s family said in a Twitter post that they were pleased the U.S. government will soon write a formal letter to free their son.
“We hope soon our son, Mohammad, will be released,” the family said. “He did not commit any crime and it is possible to review the evidence that was provided and show that his tweets and his comments in support of women in Saudi Arabia were not threatening or unlawful.”
Al-Asiri was arrested several months after his father, Anwar al-Asiri, went public in Washington, D.C., about the young female detainees who were held in the notorious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which has been known for its corruption and abuse of detainees.
Mohammad al-Asiri said in an interview last year that he and his family felt like he was the only one with information about Saudi abuses against women.
“I feel like I am the only one with a voice. Even now, I am the only one to speak and to write about it,” he said at the time. “I am not only a U.S. citizen, I was born here and have my mother here with me who are all U.S. citizens. The first thing a U