Saudis detain American woman seeking to leave with daughter

Nov 8, 2022, 3:55 PM | Updated: 4:30 pm

FILE - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to greet French President Emmanuel Macron as...

FILE - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to greet French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives for a dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly, File)

(AP Photo/Lewis Joly, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia has taken into custody an American woman who has been locked in a yearslong struggle to take her young daughter back out of the kingdom over the objections of her Saudi ex-husband, according to U.S. officials and a U.S.-based advocacy group Tuesday.

Carly Morris was summoned to a police station in the north-central city of Buraidah on Monday, and has yet to be released by Saudi authorities, according to the Washington-based Freedom Initiative. The group advocates for people it believes wrongfully detained in the Middle East.

U.S. officials said Saudi authorities had confirmed the detention of Morris, whose efforts to leave the kingdom with her now 8-year-old daughter have been made more difficult by Saudi Arabia’s strict male guardianship laws. Morris in recent months had spoken to reporters and tweeted about her circumstances.

“Our embassy in Riyadh is very engaged on this case, and they’re following the situation very closely,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington on Tuesday.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman increasingly has been including U.S. citizens and Western-based Saudis in a general crackdown on those the government sees as rivals or critics.

In August, a Saudi court gave a 16-year prison sentence to a 72-year-old Saudi-American, Saad al Madi, for critical tweets he had posted over the years from his home in Florida.

Morris had traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2019 for what was intended to be a short stay to allow her daughter, also an American citizen, to meet the family of the Saudi father, said Bethany Al-Haidari, Freedom Initiative’s Saudi Arabia case manager.

Saudi Arabia’s code of male guardianship served to keep the daughter in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia allegedly placed Morris herself under one of its widely imposed travel bans, barring her from leaving the country.

Morris recently tweeted warnings to other women with children abroad about Saudi Arabia, al Haidari said.

President Joe Biden had vowed as a candidate to isolate Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, over rights abuses. The Biden administration hopes now to persuade the kingdom to pump more oil for the global market, and has worked to close the rift between the two strategic partners.

The American woman’s detention was “yet another sign” that Saudi Arabia simply does not value the U.S. as an ally, said Allison McManus, the Freedom Initiative’s Director of Research.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

18 hours ago

Near-total abortion ban in Arizona dates back to Civil War era...

Associated Press

Near-total abortion ban dates back to 1864, during the Civil War, before Arizona was a state

The near-total abortion ban resurrected last week by the Arizona Supreme Court dates to 1864, when settlers were encroaching on tribal lands.

19 hours ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

2 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

3 days ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Saudis detain American woman seeking to leave with daughter