Senate Democrats call on King Salman to release US citizen
Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., led eight other Democratic senators in a letter today calling on Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to release political several prisoners, including one US citizen and a permanent resident.
The letter explicitly calls on King Salman to release US citizen Walid Fitahi, a dual US-Saudi citizen who was detained as part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s November 2017 crackdown on corruption.
“Troublingly, reports of Dr. Fitahi being tortured have also been documented,” the senators wrote. “We will not tolerate this treatment of an American citizen and implore you to act swiftly to resolve the case of Dr. Fitahi.”
They also call for the unconditional release of 11 human rights activists, including Virginia resident Aziza al-Yousef. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., had previously asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to personally raise Yousef’s case with Saudi Arabia. (Neither Kaine nor Connolly signed onto today’s letter.)
The letter also asks King Salman to pardon human rights activists Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair. It comes after the New York Times reported earlier this month that another US citizen, Bethany Vierra, is trapped in the kingdom under its guardianship system after divorcing her Saudi husband.
- Bryant Harris