Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, expressed her “great concern” on Sunday about the alleged abuse of a Saudi relief worker while in jail in Saudi Arabia.
According to a statement released by the US State Department on April 6, the humanitarian worker, Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, was detained by Saudi authorities in March 2018 and was sentenced to 20 years in jail followed by a 20-year travel ban. He was detained at the Riyadh office of the Red Crescent Society, where he worked.
In a tweet, Pelosi, a Democrat, said Congress would monitor his appeal hearing, which she said was on Monday, 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.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on either tweet.
Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has moved to crush dissent while introducing social and economic reforms to modernize the kingdom. Saudi authorities have detained senior royals, activists, intellectuals and clerics.
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 Islamic State militant group, and preparing, storing and sending messages that “would prejudice public order and religious values.”
The group also said al-Sadhan’s family had learned he was subjected to severe torture in detention, including “electric shocks, beatings that caused broken bones, flogging, hanging from the feet and suspension in stress-positions, threats of murder and beheading, insults, verbal humiliation.”