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Van Hollen, Menendez, Leahy, Murphy, Wyden Urge Secretary Pompeo to Address Saudis’ Detention of American Doctor while in Riyadh

February 18, 2020

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today in sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to seek a resolution of the case against Dr. Walid Fitaihi, a Saudi-American physician detained without charge by the Saudi government for nearly two years. The senators’ letter calls upon Secretary Pompeo to raise the case with Saudi officials during his visit to the Riyadh this week. 

“It has been a consistent priority of the United States—throughout Democratic and Republican administrations—to free Americans abroad from unjust detention,” wrote the senators. 

Dr. Fitaihi was arrested in November 2017 along with hundreds of other prominent Saudis targeted by Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman. He was released pending trial last July. The Saudi government has reportedly seized the American passports of Dr. Fitaihi’s wife and six of his children. At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last year, Dr. Fitaihi’s son, Ahmed, testified that his father has been tortured during his incarceration. 

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. Secretary,

As you travel to Saudi Arabia this week, we ask you to raise the case of Dr. Walid Fitaihi and his family with the highest levels of the Saudi government during your trip. Specifically, we ask you to urge a positive and prompt resolution of the ongoing court case against Dr. Fitaihi and a lifting of the travel ban imposed on him and seven members of his family, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

As you know, Dr. Fitaihi was first detained in November 2017 and was held without charge for almost two years, during which time he was reportedly tortured. He was released pending trial during the summer of 2019, however the court case against him continues to drag on. The Saudi government has imposed a travel ban on Dr. Fitaihi and his family, preventing them from returning to the United States.

It has been a consistent priority of the United States—throughout Democratic and Republican administrations—to free Americans abroad from unjust detention. We are aware that the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh has been following Dr. Fitaihi’s case for some time, and we urge you to also advocate for the rights of all those unjustly detained in Saudi Arabia, especially American citizens. 

Sincerely,



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