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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

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.