RIYADH (Dispatches) – The speaker of the United States House of Representatives says she is “deeply concerned” about the torture of a Saudi aid worker while in detention in Saudi Arabia.
The aid worker, Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, was detained by Saudi authorities in March 2018 and reported to be sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by a 20-year travel ban, according to an April 6 U.S. State Department statement.
He was arrested from the Red Crescent Society office in Riyadh, where he worked.
In a tweet on Sunday, Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber, said Congress would monitor his appeal hearing, and “all human rights abuses by the regime”.
“Deeply concerned with allegations of torture in detention of aid worker Abdulrahman al-Sadhan. His sentencing continues Saudi Arabia’s assault on freedom of expression,” Pelosi tweeted.
Separately, al-Sadhan’s sister said his health was getting worse.
“We are very worried about my brother’s safety & health, deteriorating under torture in Saudi detention, while we remain completely deprived of any contact with him,” Areej al-Sadhan wrote on Twitter.
Observers say Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the country’s de facto ruler, has sought to crush dissent in recent years.
In an April statement, Geneva-based advocacy NGO MENA Rights Group said al-Sadhan was brought to trial for having run two satirical Twitter accounts and accused of “funding terrorism”, supporting or sympathizing with the Daesh terrorist group, and preparing, storing and sending messages that “would prejudice public order and religious values”.
Sadhan, a 37-year old humanitarian aid worker, was detained by Saudi authorities in 2018 and sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by a 20-year travel ban.
After nearly two years of enforced disappearance, he was allowed to make a call to his family on February 12, 2020. His family heard from him again one year later, on February 22, 2021.