U.S. Consul General in Dubai Visits Hunger Striking American Prisoner Zack Shahin, Embassy Expresses 'Concern' In Press Release
ZACK'S AMERICAN ATTORNEYS CALL EMBASSY STATEMENT 'PROGRESS' BUT 'INADEQUATE,' RENEW CALL FOR SECRETARY CLINTON, ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER, OTHER TOP OFFICIALS TO SPEAK OUT PUBLICLY
WASHINGTON, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the United States Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a public statement expressing concern for the condition of U.S. citizen Zack Shahin. Imprisoned for over four years without bail, trial, or conviction, Mr. Shahin has been on a hunger strike for over two weeks, since May 14, asking that top American officials publicly speak out on his behalf the same way they do for non-American prisoners in other countries.
Following today's statement from the Embassy, American attorneys for Mr. Shahin released the following statement:
The news release from the Embassy in Dubai can be seen as "progress" – but it is far, far from good enough.
Let us keep in mind that even the minimal "progress" the Embassy's statement represents has come at a terribly high cost. Zack has been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks. He is rightly concerned about how much more he can take. But he is determined to press on.
Earlier today (May 31), prior to the issuance of today's statement, Zack was visited by consular officials, including the US Consul General in Dubai, Justin Siberell. They were indeed "concerned," but mostly concerned that he cease his hunger strike – the only weapon at his disposal. The following is an approximate account of part of his discussion with American officials:
Zack (to consular official): "I am going home, either walking or in a box." He then proceeded to rebuke the US officials trying to get him to end his strike: "You spend time aiding people in China, Sri Lanka, the Ukraine, etc., why don't you spend as much time on me? It would take 30 seconds for someone higher up in State to talk to someone higher up in the U.A.E. to end this. Hillary Clinton took three days to take care of the matter in Sri Lanka, and you fool around trying to get me to stop my strike? Why should I?"
The officials asked for more time; Zack replied: "You people have had four years, and you need more time? What for, to do the same thing you have done before: nothing. No thanks. You are trying to do this behind the scenes, but as you so well know Dubai has dumped on you and you take it, like a weak puppy. That's the same old garbage I've seen for the past 4 years. When I started this, I thought my chances were 10% alive, 90% in a box. Now 100% in a box."
Zack's outrage is well placed. It is good that at long last the US Embassy in the UAE has issued a public statement. But where is the voice of US Ambassador Michael Corbin, personally? Why have we not heard publicly from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or Attorney General Eric Holder? Why have we not heard publicly from Human Rights Under Secretary Maria Otero, or from Near East Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman?
How much more "concerned" does our government have to be about Zack before these officials, who have plenty of time for non-American prisoners in other countries, speak out openly for Zack?
The Embassy release quotes Consul General Siberell: "We are gravely concerned about Mr. Shahin's health after more than two weeks on hunger strike." . . . "The United States is concerned that he was detained for more than a year without formal charges, and that he has not been released on bail that has been approved in the past. The handling of his case also causes concern about whether Mr. Shahin is receiving equal treatment as measured against other defendants accused of financial crimes in the UAE." The Embassy statement says nothing to challenge Dubai's refusal to give Mr. Shahin a fair and open trial where he can refute the accusations against him. While the statement mentions the obvious fact that Mr. Shahin has not been released on bail, it stops short of calling for Mr. Shahin to be granted immediate and reasonable bail.
Mr. Shahin's mention of Sri Lanka refers to former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who was freed shortly after the personal intervention of Secretary of State Clinton. His mention of Ukraine and China refer to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and dissident Chen Guangcheng, respectively.
Text of the Embassy statement follows:
Consul General Visits Detained American in Dubai
May 31, 2012, Abu Dhabi – As part of the U.S. government's concern for detained American citizen Zack Shahin, Consul General Justin Siberell, along with a consular officer, today visited Mr. Shahin at Dubai Central Jail. Mr. Shahin has been engaged in a hunger strike since May 14. He has been imprisoned since 2008.
Speaking after his visit, Mr. Siberell said, "We are gravely concerned about Mr. Shahin's health after more than two weeks on hunger strike." Moreover, he added, "The United States is concerned that he was detained for more than a year without formal charges, and that he has not been released on bail that has been approved in the past. The handling of his case also causes concern about whether Mr. Shahin is receiving equal treatment as measured against other defendants accused of financial crimes in the UAE."
The United States has repeatedly raised serious concerns about Mr. Shahin's case. Most recently, on May 23, 2012, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs expressed these concerns to the UAE Ambassador to the United States.
For more information on Zack Shahin's arrest, visit www.FreeZack.com.
U.S. legal counsel for Zack Shahin are James Jatras, Rebekah Poston, and Eric Akers.
SOURCE US Legal Counsel for Zack ShahinBack to top