US physician with dual citizenship detained, tortured in Saudi Arabia

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

A physician with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has reportedly been detained in the Middle Eastern nation since 2017 and says he has been tortured at least once during that time, according to The New York Times.

Six things to know:

1. Walid Fitaihi, MD, has been detained in Saudi Arabia since November 2017 as part of a nationwide crackdown on corruption. He was reportedly one of 200 individuals detained at the time, and remains imprisoned without any public charges or a trial.

2. Dr. Fitaihi received his American citizenship while studying medicine at the Washington, D.C.-based George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. After his studies, he returned to Saudi Arabia and founded a private hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

3. Dr. Fitaihi reportedly told several friends and relatives that roughly one week into his detainment, he was taken into another room and was slapped, blindfolded and shocked with electricity during what appears to be a single hourlong session of torture, The New York Times reports. While the reason behind his detainment is unclear, Dr. Fitaihi said he was questioned about a relative by marriage who had also been detained, and believed his captors were seeking evidence against the relative.

4. Dr. Fitaihi's case may pose another threat to the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration has still not responded to Congress' deadline to determine who was responsible for the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last fall.

5. A lawyer for Dr. Fitaihi said in a letter to the U.S. Department of State and obtained by The New York Times that Dr. Fitaihi "is in fear for his life, that he cannot take his situation any longer, and that he desires all possible help." A State Department representative declined to comment to the publication about the case, citing privacy concerns.

6. Saudi officials have denied any mistreatment of detainees. A spokesperson for the nation's embassy in Washington told The New York Times: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes any and all allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously."

To access the full report, click here.

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