QUESTION: Mark, how closely – and I apologize; somebody may have brought this up last week. But how closely is this Department following the case of Zack Shahin? He’s an American businessman who’s currently on a hunger strike in prison in the United Arab Emirates. He’s been held for four years without a trial and he’s protesting what he says is the U.S. Government’s inaction and calling on the UAE to grant him due process. Is this case on the Department’s radar at all?
MR. TONER: Yeah. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Can you tell me why more is not being done on Mr. Shahin’s behalf?
MR. TONER: Well, okay. Yes, we remain very, very concerned about the health of Mr. Shahin. He is, as you mentioned, continuing, I believe to today, a hunger strike he began on May 14th. We are working with prison officials to monitor his condition.
In response to your second question, we have had significant concerns with the prosecution of Mr. Shahin since his detention in 2008, including his detention for more than one year without any formal charges being brought against him and the failure to release him on approved bail requests as well as what we believe was unequal treatment of Mr. Shahin as measured against the other defendants accused of financial crimes in the United Arab Emirates.
We have repeatedly raised these concerns with our – in our meetings with senior officials of the UAE in Dubai, in Abu Dhabi, and in Washington. And we have urged the UAE to conduct Mr. Shahin’s case in an expeditious and transparent manner. And I just would note that most recently on May 23rd Janice Jacobs, who’s our Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, expressed these concerns to the UAE Ambassador to the United States. And also, as you’re probably well aware, members of Congress have also raised his case with UAE officials.
QUESTION: His lawyers say it’s actually been four years that he --
MR. TONER: Right. 2008. No, I’m sorry; I just said his detention for more than one year without any formal charges being brought against him is one of the matters that we are obviously concerned about.
QUESTION: What would a possible resolution to this be? Did they charge him, or are you calling on the UAE to charge him?
MR. TONER: Well, I think we’ve urged them to consolidate – there’s several outstanding cases against him. We want to see those consolidated so that he’s able to defend himself more effectively. And we’ve also urged them to permit his release on bail. We’ve had, as I said, several approved bail requests.
QUESTION: What was the date of that meeting?
MR. TONER: May 23rd, 2012.