Mar 3, 2019

American citizen reportedly detained, tortured by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images

Walid Fitaihi, a Harvard-educated physician and dual citizen of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, is one of dozens of prisoners arrested in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's infamous corruption crackdown who claim they have been tortured, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Fitaihi, who has been detained since November 2017, reportedly told a friend that he underwent an hourlong electric shock session after being "slapped, blindfolded, stripped to his underwear and bound to a chair." His status as an American citizen poses a diplomatic challenge to President Trump, who has repeatedly touted his record of freeing Americans detained abroad while also equivocating on the human rights abuses of the Saudi kingdom — including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  • Saudi Arabia is a U.S. ally that the Trump administration views as key to securing Middle East peace. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner met with Mohammed bin Salman this week for the first time since U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly determined that he was responsible for Khashoggi's assassination.
  • Saudi officials denied any mistreatment or torture of prisoners to the Times.

On Sunday afternoon, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Fitaihi is being detained: "We can confirm that U.S. citizen Walid Fitaihi is detained in Saudi Arabia, we are providing him consular services, and we have raised his case with the Government of Saudi Arabia."

Go deeper: Saudi leaders deflect blame on day of Khashoggi sanctions deadline

Go deeper

Cruise ship evacuations: More Americans test positive for coronavirus

A bus carrying American citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship arrives at the U.S. government-chartered aircraft that is taking them back to the United States while authorities wear protective suits look on at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Another 14 passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus during their evacuation from the Diamond Princess cruise ship before being flown in a "specialist containment" area of the plane to the United States, per a Trump administration statement early Monday.

Details: Over 40 Americans who had been on the ship had previously been confirmed as infected and will remain in Japanese hospitals for treatment, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Face the Nation" Sunday. The rest were evacuated, and these latest cases were among them. All evacuees will undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival later Monday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 40 mins ago - Health

GM to exit Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

GM's Holden brand is popular among racing fans down under, and it's been a regular fixture at events like the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar Race in Australia. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General Motors is retiring its Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand and winding down operations in the two countries and Thailand by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The Holden brand has been in Australia and New Zealand for 160 years, per a GM statement issued in Australia. It is beloved by many motor racing fans down under. Holden produced Australia's first wholly locally made car in 1948.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

A family is rescued from a property in Nantgarw, Wales, on Sunday. The storm comes a week after the U.K. was battered by storm Ciara, which killed two people, per the BBC. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

See photosArrow4 hours ago - World