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Demand the release of Asim Ghafoor

Background

Name: Asim Ghafoor

Profession: Licensed Civil Rights Lawyer in Maryland and Colorado

Date of Arrest: July 14, 2022

Date of Conviction: July 16, 2022

Conviction: three year imprisonment and a $800,000 fine.

Charges: Money Laundering and Tax Evasion

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Join the solidarity movement demanding the release of Asim Ghafoor, a Human Rights laywer arrested in the UAE.

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Call your elected officials, urging them to raise the issue of Asim Ghafoor in Congress.

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Call US Embassy in UAE

Abu Dhabi: +971-2 414 2200

Dubai: +971 4 309 4000

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Email President Biden to help free Asim Ghafoor.

About Asim Ghafoor

Free Asim Ghafoor: A PRISONER OF HAQQ

On July 14, 2022, Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen and a Virginia-based prominent civil rights lawyer, was arrested by the UAE authorities on money laundering charges at Dubai airport en route to Istanbul to attend a family marriage. Ghafoor served as Acting Chief of Staff and Legislative Assistant to Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez from 1997 to 2000. He is the former attorney of the slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He currently represents Khashoggi’s fiance in her litigation against the Saudi Crown prince for his killing in the Istanbul consulate. Ghafoor co-founded the US-based rights group, Democracy for the Arab World Now DAWN, which advocates for democracy in the Middle East. 

Two days later, on July 16, the UAE sentenced Ghafoor in absentia to three years in prison for money laundering and tax evasion. The UAE officials maintain that they opened the case at the request of U.S. authorities, an allegation denied by the State Department.

Ironically, the prison sentence came on the same day President Biden met with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) Al Nahyan and invited him to come to the United States. Washington-based DAWN sources maintain that detaining Ghafoor based on an in absentia conviction without providing him any information, notice, or opportunity to defend himself against is a flagrant violation of his due process rights.

WHO IS ASIM GHAFOOR?

Ghafoor is considered an authority on American-Middle East relations and has over twenty years of experience advising policymakers and clients on various legal and political issues. He was a close personal friend and former attorney of Jamal Khashoggi. Notably, before his detention, he was advising Khashoggi’s Turkish fiance Hatice Cengiz in her litigation against Saudi Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Ghafoor is a media-savvy person who frequently spoke on law enforcement and international affairs on Media channels and at conferences and seminars. Ghafoor was also an advocate for interfaith harmony through dialogue. In 2006, at the height of the Danish cartoon crisis, he established a dialogue between Islamic scholars and the representatives of Danish cartoonists in Copenhagen. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Maryland and federal courts in D.C., Southern District of Texas, and Colorado. He earned his J.D. and B.A. from the University of Texas.

Asim was also was also subject to a secretive email monitoring campaign by the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation which sought to target alleged terrorists and spies. NSA documents also revealed that the US government had been spying on Ghafoor between 2005 and 2008.

His clients included the Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi Arabia-based charity whose US assets were frozen over claims that it funded terrorist operations and had links to al-Qaeda, as well as the government of Sudan.

Arrest Account :

According to DAWN sources, Ghafoor sent a text message to them saying that two plainclothes UAE security agents had approached him at the airport while he was waiting for his flight and told him they needed to take him to Abu Dhabi “to clear a case against him”. He sent a photo of him in a police Wagon to DAWN and then lost contact. 

Notably, Ghafoor had no knowledge of any legal matter against him. Ghafoor’s attorney, Faisal Gill, said that “his client had not heard anything about his conviction in the UAE before his arrest, and he was not facing any criminal charges in the United States. Gill further said he had not yet seen any documentation for the government’s charges against his client.

By convicting Ghafoor in absentia, UAE authorities denied him the right to trial. Dawn’s Executive Director, Sarah Leah Whitson, says that “detaining Ghafoor based on an in absentia conviction without providing him any information, notice, or opportunity to defend himself against is a flagrant violation of his due process rights.”

DAWN sources approached the Biden administration for Ghafoor’s release, and the State Department assured them they were working to resolve the matter. U.S. consular officials said, “Ghafoor is being held in a Criminal Investigative Division detention facility in Abu Dhabi on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering.”

Whitson calls the arrest “a politically motivated revenge for his association with Khashoggi and DAWN.” on a “trumped up legal pretext the UAE has cooked up.”

UAE officials say the United States had requested his arrest. According to the UAE State News agency website, the “case arose upon the American authorities’ request for judicial assistance.”

Notably, DAWN and Khashoggi’s fiance Hatice Cengiz are currently in litigation against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the U.S. Court for the District of Columbia. On July 1, 2022, Judge Bates issued an order for the U.S. government to declare by August 16, 2022, whether it would seek immunity for the Crown Prince. 

DAWN sources say that Ghafoor’s detention is due to his association with Khashoggi’s case and DAWN. However, U.S. Department spokesperson Ned Price says, “We see no indication at this point that his detention has anything to do with his association with Jamal Khashoggi.” 

UAE official website neither published the date of the trial in absentia nor its procedures or any evidence of Ghafoor’s conviction, which raises serious concerns about the integrity of the judicial process and legal proceedings, as well as the motives for detention and trial.

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