Carly Morris, a 34-year-old American woman, has been detained in Saudi Arabia after taking to Twitter to say that she and her daughter had been lured into visiting the kingdom and ‘trapped’ there since 2019.
According to her relatives, Morris planned a short visit to Saudi Arabia three years ago so that her eight-year-old daughter could meet her paternal grandfather.
However, she was soon entangled in a years-long struggle to take her young daughter back from the country following objections raised by her former husband and the laws of the country on male guardianship.
Morris said in a lengthy statement on Twitter that she and her daughter were deprived of basic human rights in the past three years.
“We have spent the past three years under these conditions and deprived of our basic human rights and our lives stolen from us. For over three years I have attempted to seek help from every government office and authority. My situation has been downplayed, neglected, and mishandled,” she wrote.
“You will be stripped of your dignity, honor, and rights. You will be placed under dehumanizing circumstances. And anyone, at any point, can do anything to you, and you will not receive the desperate help that you need, and there will be no justice. In fact, you will be blamed and criminalized in return.”
Morris noted that she and her daughter had been held “against our will” in a hotel under “extreme and dire circumstances,” where they faced “extended social isolation” since 2019.
On Sunday, she was summoned to a public prosecutor’s office and arrested on accusation that she was “destabilizing public order,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported, citing an official document.
US officials have confirmed the detention of Morris, saying they are following up on the case. “Our embassy in Riyadh is very engaged on this case, and they’re following the situation very closely,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.
No immediate information was available about the whereabouts of Morris’ daughter, who is also an American citizen.
This is the latest instance of Saudi Arabia’s detention of critics or dissidents for using social media.
Ever since Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.
Back in August, Saudi Arabia issued a 34-year-old imprisonment for Salma Al-Shehab, a Saudi woman, over having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting the critics of the kingdom
Al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two young children and a student at Leeds University, was detained in Saudi Arabia in January 2021 when she was visiting home for a vacation. She was initially sentenced to six years in prison for using social media to “disturb public order and destabilize the security and stability of the state.”
Also in late August, a specialized criminal court allegedly found Saudi Arabian woman Nourah bint Saeed Al-Qahtani guilty of “using the internet to tear [Saudi Arabia’s] social fabric” and sentenced her to 45 years in prison as a result, according to documents obtained and examined by Democracy for the Arab World Now.