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Saudi Arabia says it executed U.S. national convicted of killing and torturing his father

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Saudi Arabia on Wednesday executed a U.S. national convicted of torturing and killing his father, state media reported, bringing to at least 19 the number of foreigners put to death this year.

The death sentence for Bishoy Sharif Naji Naseef was carried out in the Riyadh region, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

The Gulf Kingdom is frequently criticized for its prolific use of capital punishment, which human rights groups say undermines its bid to soften its image through a sweeping "Vision 2030" social and economic reform agenda.

A court found that Naseef, whose age was not given, beat and strangled his Egyptian father to death and mutilated him after he died, and that he also used drugs and attempted to kill another person, SPA said.

The mode of execution was not specified, but Saudi Arabia has in the past often used beheading when implementing the death penalty.

A State Department spokesperson told CBS News on Wednesday that the U.S. "are aware of reports of the execution of a U.S. citizen in Saudi Arabia."

The spokesperson added that "We are monitoring the situation and have no further comment at this time."

Saudi Arabia was the world's third most prolific executioner last year, Amnesty International has said.

More than 1,000 death sentences have been carried out since King Salman assumed power in 2015, according to a report published earlier this year by the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights and the Britain-based group Reprieve.

A total of 91 people — 19 of them foreigners — have been executed so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on state media reports.

As well as the U.S. national, those put to death came from countries including Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Yemen.

Last year's announced figure of 147 executions was more than double the 2021 figure of 69.

Executions for drug crimes resumed in 2022, ending a moratorium that lasted for almost three years.

The 2022 total included 81 people put to death on a single day for offenses related to "terrorism," an episode that sparked an international outcry.

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Mohammed Bin Salman, Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, attends the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Nov. 7, 2022. Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman's son and the de facto ruler, has said on multiple occasions that the kingdom was reducing executions.

In a transcript of an interview with The Atlantic magazine published by state media in March 2022, Prince Mohammed said the kingdom had "got rid of" the death penalty except for cases of murder or when someone "threatens the lives of many people."

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