US in touch with KSA over arrest of 9 Americans

John Kirby.
John Kirby.

John Kirby.

Senior American officials say they are working with their Saudi counterparts to determine the facts around the cases of nine US nationals detained on charges of terrorism in the Kingdom.

“The US is working closely with the Saudi authorities right now to try to figure it out, to see exactly what the situation is,” John Kirby, a spokesman of the US Department of State, said at a press briefing in Washington.

“The US Embassy in Riyadh is also aware of the reports alleging that several US citizens were detained in Saudi Arabia,” said Frager Lincoln, a spokesman of the embassy, when asked for more information here Tuesday. Lincoln said: “The US Department of State takes its obligation to assist US citizens abroad seriously.”

The officials of the two countries are in touch with each other after reports surfaced that a total of nine Americans are currently imprisoned in Saudi jails including eight detained in the past three weeks.

According to reports, four Americans were detained in Saudi Arabia over the past fortnight on suspected terror offenses, bringing the total number of US nationals in Saudi jails to nine, according to an online list of inmates posted by the Saudi Interior Ministry. Four others were detained in November and December last year, according to the site, which describes their cases as under investigation.

A ninth American, imprisoned since 2007, was convicted, according to the ministry, which did not say what the conviction was for or the length of the sentence handed down by the Saudi court. The case is subject to appeal. Asked about the charges against the US nationals, Kirby said: “We have seen these media reports and are working hard to ascertain more details about them and about the veracity of them.”

“And we are in touch with the Saudi authorities, but I don’t have anything definitive with respect to the actual truth of these reports,” he added. “I’m just not at liberty to say more until we know more … and when I have something more specifically I can speak to,” he said.


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