US 'disappointed' at Saudi decision to uphold travel ban on dual citizen

US 'disappointed' at Saudi decision to uphold travel ban on dual citizen
The US State Department expressed its 'disappointment' with a Saudi court ruling to keep the dual citizen from leaving the kingdom.
2 min read
Futaihi's travel ban was shortened late last year [Getty]

The US State Department on Thursday expressed its disappointment with Saudi Arabia for upholding a travel ban against a dual American-Saudi citizen.

"Our highest priority is to protect our fellow Americans," said a statement issued by the State Department, after a Saudi court decided that physician Dr Walid Fitaihi will not be allowed to leave the kingdom.

Fitaihi was sentenced to jail in December 2020 but had his prison term cut almost by half the following month, with a six-year travel ban reduced to 38 months.

He was temporarily released in 2019 pending trial, after nearly two years of detention - first in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel in a so-called anti-corruption swoop in 2017, and later in the notorious Al-Ha'ir prison near the Saudi capital.

US lawmakers describe his detention as politically motivated.

Following his sentencing over charges including obtaining US citizenship without official permission and tweeting in support of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, a source close to his family said at the time that such cases could be used as a "negotiating tool" by Saudi Arabia to temper the position of then president-elect Joe Biden.