One of the 37 men beheaded in Saudi Arabia for allegedly cooperating with terrorists was a teenager about to attend Western Michigan University when he was arrested in 2012.
Mujtaba al-Sweikat, 24, was arrested in 2012, when he was 17 and due to fly to the United States, after being accused of attending a pro-democracy rally during the Arab Spring, according to the Detriot Free Press. He had been planning to pursue an undergraduate degree in finance.
Al-Sweikat was charged by the Saudi government with "with armed disobedience against the king ... attacking, shooting and injuring security forces, civilians and passersby." He was also charged with destroying public property, disrupting the peace, and cooperating with a terrorist cell.
"The death penalty was implemented on a number of criminals for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spreading chaos and provoking sectarian strife," the Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom's official news outlet, said in a tweet.
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said in a statement: "The violent killing of Mutjaba al-Sweikat is disturbing. 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."
Reprieve, an international human rights group, said al-Sweikat was tortured during his imprisonment and gave a coerced confession.