American: I Was Arrested for Saying I'm a Hostage Victim

Carly Morris of California claims loss of freedom under Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2022 3:25 PM CST
American: I Was Arrested for Saying I'm a Hostage Victim
This June 23, 2018, file photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where Carly Morris and her daughter arrived in the summer of 2019.   (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

A California woman turned to Twitter to warn women against visiting Saudi Arabia, where she said she and her 8-year-old daughter had been held against their will for three years, only to be briefly detained by Saudi authorities. Carly Morris was summoned to a police station in the city of Buraidah and taken into custody Monday after tweeting that she'd been tricked into traveling to the kingdom in 2019 so her daughter, Tala, could meet the family of her Saudi father and Morris' ex-husband, whom Morris met in the US, per the Guardian and AFP. He then blocked Morris and the child from leaving under the country's male guardianship laws, Morris alleged. The 34-year-old previously tweeted that the pair had been "deprived of our basic human rights and our lives stolen from us."

She warned others that "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." In September, she was informed that she was under investigation for "disturbing public order" and placed under a travel ban, per AFP. Morris' mother, Denise White, tells the Guardian that her daughter didn't know the reason for her detention this week. Morris now tells AFP, however, that she was ultimately detained "for two days ... over my tweets." She adds she was released from custody overnight on Tuesday—just hours after State Department spokesman Ned Price announced the US embassy in Riyadh was "very engaged on this case" and "following the situation very closely."

Prior to the statement, Morris claimed she had "attempted to seek help from every government office and authority" only to have the situation "downplayed, neglected, and mishandled," per the Guardian. "She met with the US embassy and Saudi officials … and during that meeting she said she felt there was no solution," White tells the outlet. Though the whereabouts of Tala were initially unknown, Morris tells AFP that the girl is safe with her. However, Morris claims her ex-husband "took everything" from the hotel apartment where the pair had allegedly been kept in isolation and "we have absolutely no clothes, shoes." The future of the Americans remains unclear. According to Human Rights Foundation, "Tala will not be able to exit the country without her father’s permission" until the age of 21. (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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