Tuesday, 4 March 2014

U.S. Citizen Zack Shahin Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Continued Imprisonment in Dubai

U.S. Citizen Zack Shahin Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Continued Imprisonment in Dubai, Despite No Upheld Convictions; Shahin Appeals to U.S. President Barack Obama to Intervene on His Behalf

Arrested in March 2008, Shahin Remains Imprisoned for Nearly Six Years Following an Acquittal and Overturned Conviction

Zack Shahin, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in a Dubai prison cell since March 2008 without an upheld conviction, today declared a hunger strike to protest not only his continued imprisonment by Dubai authorities, but the U.S. government's unwillingness to publicly intervene for his freedom. Shahin remains imprisoned despite his successful November 2013 appeal of an embezzlement conviction and an acquittal of another charge earlier in 2013.

In an open-letter addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama, Zack Shahin wrote: "I ask you to use all of your effort to strenuously object to my continued confinement, and given the fact that I have yet to be legally convicted of any crime, demand my immediate release from prison and return to my family here in the United States. As my government did before when it demanded my due process rights and I was granted bail, I now respectfully ask that you call U.A.E. President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan and ask him why I still remain in jail."

Following his arrest in March 2008 amid allegations of corruption against various directors and officers of Deyaar, Shahin has been wrongly singled out as having participated in draining the company of equity. He has been imprisoned without upheld conviction by the Dubai government under inhumane conditions for almost six years suffering violations of his due process rights under the laws of Dubai.

"The fear of jeopardizing the positive relationship of an ally apparently outweighs the rights of one American citizen," said U.S. legal counsel to Zack Shahin. "Elsewhere, the American government aggressively pursues human rights causes, even those involving dissidents of other governments. The time has come for action by the Obama administration – not in intervening in the local affairs of a sovereign nation -- but in demanding from that nation equality under its laws and a justice system independent of political influence. This is all Shahin's family has ever asked for – his day in court to present his case, his witnesses, and his evidence. He has done so and has been vindicated. It is time for Dubai to throw out the remaining meritless charges and allow Shahin to return to his family."

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.

For more information on Zack Shahin's arrest, visit U.S. legal counsel for Zack Shahin are Eric Akers and James Jatras.

SOURCE U.S. Legal Counsel for Zack Shahin
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