Human rights activist Assem Ghafoor was arrested in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday. The American was the lawyer for the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to the organization Democratic Human Rights in the Arab World Now (DAWN), of which Ghafoor was a member of its board of directors, his arrest was “politically motivated”.
Ghafour was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison and a fine for tax evasion and money laundering. He said he was not aware of the conviction.
According to DAWN, the human rights lawyer was arrested Thursday at an airport in Dubai. He was on his way to Istanbul to attend a relative’s wedding. Ghafoor was being held in a prison in Abu Dhabi.
“We are outraged by the unjustified detention of our board member and are deeply concerned for his health and physical integrity, as abuse – including torture and inhuman treatment – is common in the UAE,” said DAWN’s Sarah Leah Whitson.
According to human rights groups, the UAE has hundreds of political prisoners held without due process.
The United States does not believe there is a relationship with Khashoggi
A US government spokesperson says CNN There is no indication that Ghafoor’s arrest has anything to do with Khashoggi. “But we realize that.”
Down had called on US President Joe Biden to secure Ghafour’s release before his meeting with UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
Biden was in Saudi Arabia last week to strengthen ties with the country. He also met with regional leaders there, such as bin Zayed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Khashoggi, who wrote for, among others, Washington PostHe was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October 2018. According to US intelligence agencies, among others, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing, but he always denied it.
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