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Saudis Tortured a US Citizen: Report

Walid Fitaihi is still being held in a Saudi crackdown
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2019 11:37 AM CST
Dr. Walid Fitaihi.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – A US citizen has been detained and tortured in Saudi Arabia and may be on his last leg, sources tell the New York Times. Walid Fitaihi was apparently held against his will in November 2017 at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, where guards blindfolded, stripped, slapped, and bound him, then shocked him with electricity for about an hour. A friend says the Harvard-trained doctor was whipped so badly he couldn't sleep on his wounded back for days. "It is believed that Dr. Fitaihi has been and is tortured at least psychologically during his imprisonment," his attorney Howard Cooper wrote the State Department in January, per CNN. Cooper described his client as "physically deteriorated" and "emotionally broken." Now American friends of Fitaihi, 54, are pressing Washington to address his case and criticizing President Trump's inaction.

And Fitaihi isn't alone: The dual American-Saudi citizen is one of hundreds of eminent Saudis detained, and at times apparently tortured, in a 2017 crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Fitaihi's friend says he was likely tortured for information about Adel Fakeih, a relative by marriage and an ex-senior aide to the crown prince. Al Jazeera notes that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, himself a murder victim of Saudi agents, tweeted about Fitaihi in 2018: "What has happened to us?" he wrote in Arabic. "How can someone like Dr. Walid Fitaihi be arrested and what are the justifications for it?" Meanwhile, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner met with the crown prince this week, but it seems Fitaihi's imprisonment wasn't discussed. Trump says he has successfully extricated 20 US citizens held abroad. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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