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American woman released from Saudi jail after two days in detention for tweets critical of the kingdom

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Saudi authorities have released an American woman they have held in custody since Monday in connection with a long-running custody dispute involving her daughter and her ex-husband.

“US citizen Carly Morris has been released in Saudi Arabia and has been reunited with her daughter,” the Freedom Initiative, which remains involved in the case, posted on Twitter Wednesday morning.

Morris initially confirmed to Agence France-Press that she was released overnight and had been jailed for two days “because of my tweets.” She said that she had taken her daughter out of her school as soon as she was released, but that her ex-husband took all of her belongings, including her clothes, from her while she was in custody, claiming that she “took it all”.

Morris traveled to Saudi Arabia for what was intended to be a brief visit to allow her 8-year-old daughter, also a US citizen, to meet her ex-husband’s family.

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But the Saudi guardianship code skews heavily in favor of the father, allowing him to insist that his daughter stay with him. The kingdom itself has banned Morris from traveling to prevent her and her daughter from leaving since her arrival in 2019.

Saudi women walk past jewelers at the Taiba gold market in the capital Riyadh on April 30, 2020, after the curfew was partially lifted.
(Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Buraydah city police summoned Morris to the station on Monday and kept her there until Wednesday because of tweets she posted warning other women and children not to visit Saudi Arabia. She insisted that she was held with her daughter “against our will” in a hotel under “extreme and terrible circumstances”.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed on Wednesday that the embassy in Riyadh was “very engaged” in the case and “following the situation very closely.”

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a graduation ceremony and air show marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of King Faisal Air College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on January 25, 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a graduation ceremony and air show marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of King Faisal Air College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on January 25, 2017.
(REUTERS/Faisal Al-Nasser)

“We are aware of reports that Ms. Morris has been taken into custody,” Price told reporters. “Of course, the safety, the well-being of American citizens abroad is the highest priority that we have at the State Department. We take our role in helping American citizens abroad very seriously.”

A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital that “we are aware of media reports regarding the release of Carly Morris. Due to privacy concerns, we have no further comment.”

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The Freedom Initiative applauded Morris’s release on Wednesday, but stressed that she is not “truly free.”

“While we welcome the news of her release last night, Carly is not truly free,” the Initiative added. “She remains under the travel ban. She and her daughter must be allowed to return safely to her home in the United States.”

The Saudi embassy in DC did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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Saudi Arabia, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has increasingly included US citizens and Western-based Saudis in a sweeping crackdown on those the government sees as rivals or critics. In August, a Saudi court sentenced a 72-year-old Saudi-American, Saad al-Madi, to 16 years in prison for critical tweets he had posted for years from his home in Florida.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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