US citizen detained during pilgrimage in KSA: Family
Mohamad Salem was apprehended on November 1 and sent to a maximum-security institution generally reserved for high-profile political detainees and suspected terrorists, as per a family member.
A US citizen was detained in Saudi Arabia after a disagreement with security officials while performing the umrah pilgrimage, as per a lawyer for his family on Sunday.
Mohamad Salem was apprehended on November 1 and sent to a maximum-security institution generally reserved for high-profile political detainees and suspected terrorists, according to Abdallah Moughni, who spoke by phone from the US state of Michigan, where Salem resides.
He is one of several Americans who have recently been arrested, as tensions between the two long-term partners over global oil supply have risen.
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Salem, a 63-year-old Yemeni, traveled to Saudi Arabia with two of his sons to make the umrah pilgrimage at Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, according to Moughni, who also serves as the family's spokesperson.
While waiting in line, he got into a verbal spat with security personnel, who separated him from his sons. Later, two men approached him, claiming to be from Libya and inquiring as to what had happened. Moughni said the two men turned out to be undercover Saudi agents, and Salem was detained.
Moughni stated that the US embassy had provided Salem's family with a list of potential lawyers, but none had agreed to take the case so far.
Since Salem was transported to Dhahban Central Prison, where Amnesty International previously documented charges of torture by electrocution and flogging, they have grown increasingly concerned for his well-being.
Not an isolated incident
In a similar context, last week, Saudi opposition activist, Abdul Hakim bin Abdul Aziz, revealed that the Saudi authorities had arrested his son, Yasser, from his university, as part of the Kingdom's aggressive crackdown against activists that criticize the performance of the ruling regime on social media.
The Saudi opposition activist pointed out that the only justification for the Saudi authorities to arrest his son is to blackmail him, stressing that this step will only increase his determination to perform the duty he is doing.
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At the beginning of last month, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights revealed that the Saudi authorities had sentenced 15 prisoners of conscience to death, bringing the number of people at risk of death to 53, including at least eight minors.
In the same context, the Saudi Court of Appeal extended in October the sentence of Tunisian national Mahdia Al-Marzouki, from two years and eight months to 15 years, on charges of interacting with a tweet.
Similarly, the Saudi authorities sentenced an American citizen to 16 years in prison for criticizing the Saudi regime in a tweet.
In late August, a specialized criminal court allegedly found Saudi Arabian woman, Nourah bint Saeed Al-Qahtani, guilty of "using the internet to tear [Saudi Arabia's] social fabric" and sentenced her to 45 years in prison as a result, according to documents obtained and examined by Democracy for the Arab World Now.
The court also sentenced Saudi university student Salma Al-Shehab to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists on her personal Twitter account.
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