Obama Silent on 6th Anniversary of American Zack Shahin Dubai arrest
Legal team says U.S. State Dept silence is deafening as Shahin’s imprisonment without upheld conviction continues since 2008
The six-year anniversary of U.S. Citizen Zack Shahin’s imprisonment has come and gone, with nary a word from the U.S. Department of State suggesting any resolution to his ongoing ordeal. Despite Shahin remaining imprisoned without any upheld conviction, U.S. Ambassador to U.A.E., Michael H. Corbin, and U.S. Consul General in Dubai, Rob Waller, have not made any public statement on Shahin’s case or the flawed legal system of Dubai.
According to Shahin’s U.S. legal team, the imprisoned American is left wondering whether the annual State Department country reports on human rights practices, including detailed abuses occurring in the U.A.E., is purely academic research for scholars to debate in the abstract.
U.S. co-counsel for Shahin, Eric J. Akers, stated: “After six years imprisoned without any upheld conviction, Zack Shahin’s case is not one of a U.S. citizen begging for intervention to absolve him of his alleged acts of misconduct. This is a case of the dysfunctional Dubai judicial system trampling on the due process rights of a U.S. citizen and the Obama administration sitting idly by. Can President Obama seriously proclaim that his foreign policy includes the protection of U.S. citizens abroad, after six years of Zack’s imprisonment?”
Shahin’s ordeal is especially concerning, since he continues to hold the dubious distinction as the longest imprisoned foreign citizen held in the U.A.E. without any upheld conviction. And it was one year after his arrest that any charges were even filed against him. Since then numerous delays of cases filed have prolonged his detention. All of this validates the criticism found in the State Department’s annual report on the status of the legal system in the U.A.E, particularly the observation that “court decisions remained subject to review by the political leadership and suffered from nepotism.”
Commenting further, Akers stated: “Since his detention, Zack lost his father, his children have grown, and his wife remains wondering whether she will ever have her husband back. And the United States Department of State stonewalls in raising his case to the U.A.E. officials. The concern for those persecuted in other countries, whether the son of a U.S. administration official arrested in Egypt, lost hitch-hikers in Iran, or political dissidents around the world, surely should make Zack’s situation as equal. Where is the parity of importance in the eyes of the State Department?
Having received no response to correspondence to the U.S. Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, and the Consul General in Dubai, Congressional leaders have been contacted by Shahin’s counsel, asking for assistance in determining why his situation has not been given greater importance. It is hoped that members of Congress will receive better responses than the family of Shahin. “Since 2012, Zack’s wife and others asking for updates have only received ‘form’ responses, telling them what is already known,” James Jatras, co-consul for Zack Shahin stated. “And the telling message is that the State Department does not know how to do what it is charged to do: Protect all American citizens abroad, wherever they may be.”
About Zack Shahin’s Plight Since His March 2008 Arrest and Imprisonment:
March 23, 2014, will mark the six-year anniversary of Zack Shahin’s arrest. Except for the brief period following his release on bail in July 2012 and return that September, he has remained imprisoned without an upheld conviction. In early 2013, Zack was acquitted on the first of four criminal cases against him, all of which stem from the same baseless accusations concerning his tenure as CEO of Deyaar, a Dubai-based real estate company. The prosecutor unsuccessfully appealed this decision and the not-guilty verdict was upheld. In March 2013, Zack and co-defendants were found guilty of embezzlement and received a 15-year sentence. Zack immediately appealed the conviction and the Dubai Court of Appeals overturned the court’s decision.
Despite an appeals court overturning Shahin’s guilty verdict and a cassation court upholding another not-guilty verdict, after four years of court appearances and continuances, and an obvious strategic maneuver by the Dubai government to deny U.S. citizen Zack Shahin his due process right to a trial, Washington continues to tread lightly.
U.S. legal counsel for Zack Shahin are Eric J. Akers and James Jatras.
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