WASHINGTON, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. legal counsel to Zack Shahin, a U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Dubai for over 1,500 days without bail, trial, or conviction, issued the following statement on day 7 of Shahin's hunger strike in protest of the U.S. government's timidity in dealing with U.A.E.'s due process violations of Shahin:
"With Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng safely in New York, the United States has once again demonstrated that even the possibility of damaging relations between Washington and Beijing cannot prevent the State Department from publicly supporting the aspirations of those whose human rights have been infringed upon. What's remarkable is the length the U.S. government went to ensure Chen's freedom, including offering him refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, having U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke meet with and be photographed with Chen, ensuring Chen's safety on his flight with U.S. government officials escorting him on the plane from China to the United States, and issuing very public statements on Chen's future from both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Embassy in China.
The United States government also has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to government's violating due process rights, not upholding the rule of law, or permitting selective justice. Just last week, the United States Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine publicly supported more non-U.S. citizens who have supposedly been persecuted in Ukraine, despite these individuals having a trial and being convicted of the crimes they were charged with. Not only did the U.S. government issue a public statement '[calling] for Mrs. Tymoshenko's release, the release of other members of her former government and the restoration of their full civil and political rights,' but also committed to having U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Thomas O. Melia visit Tymoshenko in prison.
This outspokenness from the highest levels of U.S. government makes it all the more frustrating why, after Zack Shahin has spent over 1,500 days in a Dubai prison without bail, trial, or conviction, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy in the United Arab Emirates, continue their timidity in publicly raising Shahin's case with U.A.E. authorities. In a May 18 Financial Times article, a U.S. Embassy in U.A.E. spokesman said, 'the U.S. is concerned about Mr Shahin's situation and has repeatedly raised the need for due process and a swift resolution to his case at the highest level of U.A.E. government.' While it is true that the State Department has sent private, diplomatic notes to the U.A.E. government stating 'concern,' there has yet to be a satisfactory response from the U.A.E. authorities as to why Shahin remains imprisoned, without bail, while other Emirati defendants accused of the same alleged crimes walk free. Nor has the U.A.E. government answered why Shahin has faced continuance after continuance in over 200 court hearings, with only 17 lasting more than three minutes and none lasting more than 40 minutes. Obviously there has been a communications gap between the U.S. and U.A.E. governments.
Because these diplomatic notes may have been lost in translation, let's simplify the matter: U.S. Ambassador to U.A.E. Michael H. Corbin should request an immediate meeting with U.S. citizen Zack Shahin. Whereupon the completion of this meeting, Ambassador Corbin should make it clear in no uncertain terms that the U.S. government will no longer tolerate U.A.E.'s blatant disregard for due process rights and the rule of law, that Zack Shahin should be granted immediate bail, and that a fair and open trial should commence so Mr. Shahin's defense team may finally prove his innocence after four years of court delays. As Mr. Shahin is a U.S. citizen languishing in a Dubai jail cell, we expect Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speak out publicly for Mr. Shahin with the same commitment she has demonstrated for non-Americans such as Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Chen. Should Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Corbin choose to ignore the plight of this U.S. citizen, U.S. consular officials in U.A.E. can soon prepare for the transportation of Mr. Shahin's body to his family in the United States when he dies of starvation. Mr. Shahin's hunger strike will continue until the United States ends its timidity in dealing with the U.A.E. government's due process violations in Zack Shahin's case."
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 trial by the Dubai government under inhumane conditions for over four years suffering violations of his due process rights under the laws of Dubai. Although various charges have been filed, no resolution of any of them has taken place. Some cases have even been dismissed on the eve before trial, just when Shahin was about to present his defense to the claims against him. Shahin has had over 200 court hearings, yet only 17 lasted longer than 3 minutes and all were less than 40 minutes.
The U.S. government has witnessed these due process abuses, while periodically inquiring about the status of his cases in the Dubai courts and sending its Embassy representatives to court hearings. They have witnessed first-hand four years of delays, due to the prosecutors and judges failing to show up at scheduled hearings. However, the U.S. government appears timid to express a more forceful position in seeking fairness and justice in Zack's case.