DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Renewing their call for greater involvement in the case of wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen Zach Shahin, attorneys for Shahin cite specific examples of American involvement in placing greater emphasis on foreign citizens' rights, while ignoring the wrongful detention of American citizens.
"While the interests of human rights and freedom of expression are conceded as an important facet of global concern, the greater interest of protecting Americans abroad should not be given a lesser importance in the scheme of American foreign policy," stated Eric J. Akers, attorney for Shahin.
To prove his contention, Akers points to three instances, which involve foreign dissidents, and one involving an American citizen held captive by a country with whom the U.S. seeks to appease.
"It is extraordinary that our government would 'strike a deal' with the Chinese government to bring the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guanqcheng to American soil, after giving him refuge in the American Embassy in Beijing. Yet, it took a hunger strike to finally have the American Embassy in the U.A.E. request bail for Zack Shahin in 2012," added Akers.
Recently, the press has been filled with reports of the release of ex-Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko: "It is again surprising that the media reports on U.S. State Department comments regarding Tymoshenko's release, but where has the State Department commented on Zack's acquittal on one case, and his continued detention for six years without an upheld conviction?" asked Akers.
"It is also interesting that, in January of this year, the U.S. State Department joined Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in condemning the detention of dissidents in Cuba to keep them away from a summit of hemispheric leaders meeting in Havana, when, again, no mention for the past two years have been made of Zack's case."
"Finally, Kenneth Bae is being held captive by a repressive government, only for the reason that he is not a 'political bargaining chip.' However, and again very important, his imprisonment is highlighted merely because the U.S. State Department is attempting to parley his captivity into a greater goal, which is stabilizing relations with a rogue government. What matters more than the life of Zack Shahin, an American citizen in a 'friendly' country is the non-interference by the U.S. with an unfriendly government. How sad our foreign policy has deteriorated to," added Akers
On Thursday, March 6, Akers renewed his request for assistance in addressing Shahin's situation in letters directed to both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. "On behalf of Zack and his family, I respectfully but urgently implore you to bring to bear the considerable power of your offices in securing Zack's release," wrote Akers
On March 2, 2014, Zack Shahin declared a hunger strike to protest the U.S. government's unwillingness to intervene on his behalf and demand that Dubai authorities release him after six years in jail without an upheld conviction
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.