We are enormously concerned for Asim Ghafoor’s safety, as the UAE routinely engages in torture and human rights abuses, forced confessions, and incommunicado detention.
Radha Stirling statement on Ghafoor arrest in Dubai
17 July 2022
Asim Ghafoor, the former lawyer of Jamal Khashoggi, was arrested in Dubai while in transit on his way to Turkey. Ghafoor, and American citizen, had been charged and convicted in absentia on charges of money laundering and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment; but it is believed his case is politically-motivated due to his connection with Khashoggi and his work with the organisation Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN).
Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International, leading legal expert and critic of the UAE, said in a statement: “The codependent alliance between the UAE and Saudi Arabia is well-known, as is their joint culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi; in which the UAE reportedly acted as an accomplice after the fact.
“This alliance has emboldened both countries to adopt increasingly belligerent and defiant stances against the norms of international diplomacy, the rule of law, and due process. Dissent and criticism are not only not tolerated, they are vindictively punished. The judiciary in the UAE is not independent, and the legal system is frequently weaponised against opponents of the government. We have no doubt that the case against Asim Ghafoor is the result of fabrication, not investigation, and that it represents a political vendetta; not only against the associates of Jamal Khashoggi, but against anyone who advocates democratic change in the Gulf – such as Ahmed Mansour.
“The UAE regularly charges individuals and convicts them in absentia without their knowledge; either waiting for them to haplessly enter Emirates’ jurisdiction to arrest them; or more frequently, wrongfully reporting them to Interpol and pursuing extradition. Obviously, sentences awarded in absentia are gross violations of due process, and we have not seen a case in which the accused has been granted a new trial in the UAE after an absentia sentencing. This is verdict by edict, not trial and evidence.
“We are enormously concerned for Asim Ghafoor’s safety, as the UAE routinely engages in torture and human rights abuses, forced confessions, and incommunicado detention. There is no question that Ghafoor will not receive a fair trial if he is allowed to contest the charges in court, and every moment he remains in police custody poses a risk to his life
“It is telling that his arrest coincides with the visit of US President Biden to Saudi Arabia. While the West is seeking Gulf oil to enable what we are told is the fight for democracy and the Liberal world order in the war in Ukraine; the West ignores an American who has been jailed in the Gulf for fighting for the same thing.
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is basking in the impunity granted to his regime by the ongoing energy crisis in Europe and the US, and this applies to the regime of Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi as well. When the current oil and gas shortages allow the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to be overlooked, it gives Saudi Arabia and the UAE free license to persecute human rights activists at will.”