Armoured American Citizens Arrested in Dubai, During Rogue Rescue Mission From Afghanistan
Dubai, located on the southeastern shoreline of Arabian Peninsula and one of seven emirates that make up United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been dubbed “the jewel of the Middle East.” It’s an upscale tourist destination with its own skyline and world’s largest mall. Dubai also serves as a center for oil & gas operations while its economy relies heavily on trade, finance, real estate development, construction work and tourism.
Dubai’s human rights record is shocking. Despite its wealth, the UAE has jailed hundreds of activists, academics and lawyers on charges they never committed. They’ve been held in long repressive detention camps known as ‘prison farms’ where their lives are put at risk and they cannot speak to their families.
Prison farms in the UAE are well known for their harsh treatment, including forced confessions, extortion and even lack of legal representation. People have been imprisoned for engaging in sexual acts outside marriage, for minor traffic offenses or for publicly expressing a political opinion.
Armoured Americans Are Arrested in Dubai Following Rogue Rescue Mission from Afghanistan
On August 31, a group of armed American civilians trying to help the US evacuate personnel and equipment from Afghanistan were arrested in Dubai. These rogue operators had come from Saudi Arabia where they planned to volunteer for a private plane flight to Kabul but were arrested upon landing in the Gulf Arab nation, according to Reuters. They were accused of bringing weapons into the country – which violated both UAE weapon laws as well as federal law.
This arrest comes in the wake of the wrongful extradition of US-based DAWN board member Asim Ghafoor to Dubai, where he has been jailed on a charge of money laundering. According to U.S.-based human rights groups, his conviction was obtained in absentia without due process or trial.
Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai, a campaign to protect those facing extradition to Egypt, expressed her alarm: “Sherif’s case is extremely concerning as his life could be put at risk if sent there where he faces torture and other abuses in their prisons. If this occurs, the world must take action immediately to guarantee his safety.”
Emirati authorities deny that Osman was arrested at Egypt’s request or using Interpol’s red notice system, which alerts international law enforcement of suspect movements. But rights groups contend that during a monthlong suspension from seeing his lawyer, he was denied access to important legal documents such as powers of attorney.
Amnesty International reported that Osman’s 15-day preventive detention was extended twice, despite a court order to release him upon arrival in Dubai. They claim he was denied access to his lawyers and the power of attorney document which would grant them access to his phone and email accounts.
It serves as a stark reminder of how the UAE treats human rights defenders who challenge its rule. Here, rape victims can be jailed for having sex outside marriage, an allegation is enough to get someone in prison, and witness statements are enough for conviction. It’s truly shocking that this occurs in such an affluent and vital part of world economies.