A Saudi Arabian man who was arrested as a teenager as he was getting ready to fly to America to begin his studies at Western Michigan University was beheaded by the government Tuesday, according to a report from an official press agency.
Mujtaba al-Sweikat was 17 when he was detained at King Fahd International Airport in 2012. Earlier that year, Al-Sweikat allegedly attended a pro-democracy rally in the midst of the Arab Spring, which led to his arrest. He was intending to visit Western Michigan, where he had been accepted as a student, the university confirmed to the Free Press in 2017.
More than 35 people, including al-Sweikat, were listed on a release from the Saudi Press Agency, announcing the killings.
Sweikat was charged with armed disobedience against the king, as well as attacking, shooting and injuring security forces, civilians and passersby. He was also accused of destroying public property, causing chaos and disrupting the peace, by participating in a terrorist cell, to make and deliver Molotov cocktails.
During his time in custody, Sweikat was severely beaten all over his body, including the soles of his feet, and convicted on the basis of a confession extracted through torture, according to Reprieve, an international human rights group that has offices in New York and London and operates with partners around the world.
After his arrest, he was not allowed to contact anybody for three days, and his family were not allowed to visit him for three months, during which time he was kept in solitary confinement, according to Reprieve.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, expressed her concern over the killing.
“The violent killing of Mutjaba al-Sweikat is disturbing,” she said in a statement. “Mutjaba had a bright future ahead of him and Michigan was prepared to welcome him as a student. Instead, he faced inhumane torture and pain ultimately leading to his execution.
“Every human, regardless of where they may be in the world, should have the right to speak openly without fear of persecution or death. Right now, I stand in unity with Mutjaba’s family and friends. I will never stop speaking up for all who promote free speech and due process around the world.”