Americans whose relatives are detained in Saudi Arabia and Egypt called on President Joe Biden to help secure their freedom ahead of his Middle East tour next week.
The letter was delivered to the White House on behalf of dozens of families whose relatives are held in Egyptian and Saudi prisons, some of whom hold the American citizenship.
“We have spent many holidays, the births of children and grandchildren, and other important family events with empty seats at our tables,” they said in the letter.
“We appeal to your sense of compassion and commitment to justice to alleviate our suffering,” they wrote.
“We worry that these warmer relations (with Egypt and Saudi Arabia) will only eclipse the plight of our loved ones, and we at least expect closer ties be utilized to insist on their release and our reunification,” the letter reads.
Foreign Affairs magazine said that the US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia has unleashed a gusher of chatter in the American foreign policy community.
Some reactions, including from influential Democratic politicians, have been unreservedly negative. But defenders of Biden’s decision to visit argue that US interests and the realities of power in the Middle East require a strategic relationship with the Saudis, despite their poor record on human rights and democracy.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden vowed to make a pariah out of Saudi Arabia over the 2018 murder of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.