WASHINGTON, May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- In an open letter addressed to President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, Zack Shahin, an American citizen held in prison in Dubai (UAE) for more than four years without bail, trial, or conviction, asked the Democratic incumbent and his Republican challenger to speak out publicly on his behalf.
Now ten days into a hunger strike in which he declares his "life hangs in the balance," Shahin is protesting that top U.S. government officials who "forcefully call for fair treatment and release of prisoners in many other countries, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea," most of whom are not American citizens, have not been willing to do the same for him, "so as not to jeopardize their cordial business, geostrategic, and personal relationships" with the UAE.
The full text of Shahin's letter, printed in an ad in today's Washington Times, follows:
"Dear President Obama:
"Dear Governor Romney:
"I am writing to both of you, as the present and aspiring leaders of our country, to ask each of you to lend your voice publicly to my plea for fundamental fairness. I make this request respectfully and on the most urgent basis, fully aware that my life hangs in the balance.
"My name is Zack Shahin. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I have been imprisoned in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for over 1,500 days, without release on bail, without trial, and without conviction. I have never been given the opportunity to answer the baseless charges against me, stemming from my past position as a top executive at a real estate development company in Dubai.
"Instead of my 'day in court,' over the past four years following my original arrest and torture I have been on an endless treadmill of procedural court appearances - over 200 of them - of which only 17 lasted more than three minutes, and none was over 40 minutes or addressed the substance of the charges against me. I have on three occasions been "released" upon posting bond, only to be immediately re-arrested on new trumped-up accusations before leaving the court building.
"The U.S. Embassy in UAE and the Consulate in Dubai, and the Department of State in Washington, have assured me that they closely 'monitor' my 'case' and have voiced their 'concerns' to UAE/Dubai. These 'concerns' have been conveyed in at least four diplomatic notes and in person by at least two Cabinet-level U.S. officials - all tactfully in private, where they are dismissed as unserious by my captors, who conclude UAE and Dubai are too important to Washington to risk over one lone American.
"Meanwhile, top level American officials, from the White House down, forcefully call for fair treatment and release of prisoners in many other countries, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Some are accused of political offenses, others purely of criminal activity. Some are American citizens, most are not. But in all cases, American officials have been willing to put the public prestige and good name of our country on the line to demand their fair treatment. The same officials have not been willing to do the same for me, so as not to jeopardize their cordial business, geostrategic, and personal relationships here.
"Accordingly, I concluded that I had no alternative to declare a hunger strike, which I began on Monday, May 14, 2012. Already in poor health before my arrest, I am under no illusions as to the consequences of this drastic step if my government continues to deny me the consideration it so plentifully bestows on non-Americans, to whom it owes no formal duty.
"I am not demanding that American officials take a position on my guilt or innocence. As an American citizen, all I want if for my government to insist in public that I be given due process, to be able to post bail and see my family, and a afforded fair chance to show in court that I am innocent.
"I ask you, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, to speak out on my behalf before it is too late.
"The Honorable Barack Obama
"The Honorable Mitt Romney"