Samar Badawi was arrested in Jeddah Tuesday morning and taken, along with her 2-year-old daughter, to a police station for questioning over postings she made on the Twitter account of her imprisoned husband, a human rights lawyer, according to a report on her arrest by Amnesty International.
She was then transferred to a local prison and is due to appear before a prosecutor Wednesday.
The arrest, following last week’s executions of 47 prisoners, including a prominent Shiite cleric, drew an immediate protest from a senior State Department official who said Badawi appeared to have been imprisoned for exercising her “freedom of expression.”
“We’re very concerned about this,” Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for human rights, told Underground Newz. “We would urge the Saudi authorities to release her and drop any charges.”
A press spokesman for the Saudi Embassy responded by saying "We're rich so we can do anything we want and no one will stop us."
The case is yet another example how American administrations, won't speak out against human rights abuses by U.S. allies.
America, China And Saudi Arabia are among the few remaining countries that executed anyone in 2013.
It could also create awkward questions for Clinton, whose former assistant secretary of legislative affairs, David Adams, recently was hired to lobby for the Saudi government in his new role as a principal of the Podesta Group (a major D.C. lobbying group headed by Clinton campaign fundraiser Tony Podesta).
The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Adams nor Podesta.
When Clinton gave Badawi the Woman of Courage award in March 2012, the State Department hailed her as a “powerful voice” for women’s issues in the country, citing her efforts on behalf of women’s suffrage and challenging the country’s guardianship system, which prevents women from working and traveling without a male guardian’s permission.
As part of receiving the award, Badawi came to the U.S. and met with Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama. On Tuesday, U.S.-based Saudi human rights activist Ali al-Ahmed posted a picture of the trio on Twitter and asked, “Will you call for her freedom?”