Our ‘Allies’ the Saudis Tortured a US Citizen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

When Mohammed bin Salman carried out his “anti-corruption” purge in November 2017, we already knew that many of the detainees were subjected to torture, and at least one of the detainees died from his injuries. One of the tortured detainees was Walid Fitaihi, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia:

A dual citizen of Saudi Arabia and the United States had been imprisoned in the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh for about a week when he heard a knock on his door.

Guards dragged Walid Fitaihi, a Harvard-trained physician, to another room, according to a friend who took down the prisoner’s detailed account of his treatment. Dr. Fitaihi told the friend he was slapped, blindfolded, stripped to his underwear and bound to a chair. He was shocked with electricity in what appears to have been a single session of torture that lasted about an hour.

His tormentors whipped his back so severely that he could not sleep on it for days, his friend said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals. The doctor had described the physical abuse, in general terms, to his relatives as well, a person close to them said.

Dr. Fitaihi is still being held without charge. It should go without saying that our government should be urgently seeking his release, and the Saudi government should expect to pay a price for imprisoning and torturing an American citizen. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has been embarrassingly subservient to the Saudi government for the last two years, and their evident failure to intercede on behalf of a US citizen wrongfully detained and tortured in Saudi Arabia is more of the same. No one should have any confidence that the same people that have bent over backwards to shield the Saudis from the consequences of their war crimes in Yemen and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi will do anything for Dr. Fitaihi. As usual, it will fall to Congress and human rights activists to call attention to yet another case of outrageous Saudi behavior.

The Saudi torture of detainees has not been limited to those targeted by the crown prince’s purge. Many of the women activists detained last year have also been tortured and abused for nothing more than their political activism. In the time since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince, the government has become increasingly repressive and even more abusive than it was in the past. There are many reasons why the US should be reassessing and downgrading its relationship with the Saudis, and this is certainly one of them.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American…

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