Detained US-Saudi citizen beaten, tortured: Report
Washington: A dual US-Saudi citizen who has been detained in Saudi Arabia reportedly has been beaten and tortured, a media report said.
The US State Department has confirmed Walid Fitaihi’s detainment in Saudi Arabia and that it has raised his case with the Riyadh government.
“We can confirm that US citizen Walid Fitaihi is detained in Saudi Arabia, we are providing him consular services, and we have raised his case with the Government of Saudi Arabia,” a Department spokesperson said told CNN on Sunday.
“We take all allegations of abuse and torture extremely seriously. ”
Fitaihi is a physician who came to the US in the 1980s for education and then worked here.
He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2006 to start a hospital, which his family built. Fitaihi would periodically come back to the US for business.
He was detained in November 2017 at the Ritz Carlton hotel along with other prominent Saudis and without explanation, he was transferred to a Saudi prison where he has been held for nearly a year, according to his attorney Howard Cooper.
“It is believed that Fitaihi has been and is tortured at least psychologically during his imprisonment.”
His family has been able to visit him occasionally as well as talk to him on the phone and said “he has physically deteriorated” and that he appears to be “emotionally broken”, Cooper told CNN on Sunday.
“He has been held without any process whatsoever,” the lawyer added.
The family is now going public on Fitaihi’s behalf and is calling on President Donald Trump and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner to insist on Fitaihi’s release.
Meanwhile, a Saudi spokesman in a statement to The New York Times denied any mistreatment of detainees.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes any and all allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial of prisoners serving their sentences very seriously,” an embassy spokesman told the Times.
National Security Adviser John Bolton told CNN on Sunday that “as of this moment, my understanding is we have had what’s called ‘consular access’, meaning American diplomats in Saudi Arabia have visited with him. Beyond that, we don’t really have any additional information at this point”.