March 20, 2023 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Freedom Initiative celebrates the release of U.S. citizen Saad Almadi after more than a year in prison in Saudi Arabia. Almadi, a dual U.S.-Saudi national, was released after Saudi authorities cleared him of all charges. Almadi has not yet returned to his home in Florida, where he can reunite with his son and family.  

Responding to the news of Almadi’s release, Abdullah Alaoudh, Saudi director at the Freedom Initiative, said: 

“We are relieved that Saad Almadi has been released, but he should have never spent a day behind bars for innocuous tweets. There are far too many people in Saudi detention who don’t have the benefit of U.S. citizenship to draw attention to their cases. Almadi was wrongfully detained, reportedly tortured, and released only after tireless campaigning by his son and international pressure. Almadi’s release shows that strategic pressure works, and U.S. officials should continue to press for release of prisoners and lifting of travel bans,” Alaoudh said. 

Andrea Prasow, Executive Director of the Freedom Initiative said: 

“Almadi was detained in Saudi Arabia for engaging in protected speech inside the U.S. His case is but one of many that illustrate Saudi authorities’ relentless assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms. The U.S. should be using all tools available to it to press for improvements on human rights, ensuring that any continued support is founded on release of prisoners and demonstrated progress on rights. Congress should continue its efforts to ensure that the U.S. complies with its own laws prohibiting security assistance to gross human rights abusers and pressing the Biden administration to ensure U.S.-Saudi relations are founded on a respect for rights,” Prasow said. 


Almadi, a 72-year-old project manager from Florida, was detained in November 2021 while visiting family in Saudi Arabia. On October 3, 2022, he was sentenced by Saudi Arabia’s notorious Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) to 16 years in prison, on terrorism charges over 14 tweets critical of the Saudi government that he posted while in the United States, some of which date back seven years.  

During an initial meeting with embassy officials in May 2022, Almadi requested that the U.S. government not intervene in his case, due to fears that Saudi authorities would retaliate against him for doing so. When he changed his mind in August 2022 and requested that the U.S. government intervene, Almadi was tortured in an apparent reprisal by the Saudi authorities, his son Ibrahim told the Washington Post.  

In an October 2022 interview with CNN, Ibrahim said his father, who also suffers from diabetes, was subjected to freezing temperatures inside his cell and deprived of sleep 

This is not the first time Americans have been targeted in Saudi Arabia. At least six U.S. persons are currently detained or trapped under politically motivated travel bans in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has also escalated its crackdown on dissent abroad, including by targeting individuals on American soil. 

The release of Almadi comes on the heels of the announcement of a privileged resolution on Saudi Arabia, introduced by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Mike Lee (R-UT). The resolution would require the State Department to submit a human rights report on Saudi Arabia, triggering a provision in the Foreign Assistance Act. Should the resolution pass and the report fail to be delivered, security assistance to the Kingdom would cease. On Tuesday, the White House welcomed a “landmark” deal for Saudi Arabia to buy airplanes from Boeing, with a total value of up to $37 billion.     

Almadi’s release also comes days before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which the Freedom Initiative is launching a new campaign, called Reunite Families, highlighting the human cost of unjust detention and other forms of state repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia – both U.S. allies.  

For more information or to set up an interview with Abdullah Alaoudh, contact