Washington, DC (July 22, 2022) – Justice For All strongly condemns the unlawful arrest and detention of the U.S. citizen and Virginia-based civil rights attorney Asim Ghafoor by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities at Dubai International Airport and calls for his immediate release. Justice For All designates Asim Ghafoor as a Prisoner of Haqq.
On July 14, 2022, Asim Ghafoor, a U.S. Citizen and a prominent civil rights lawyer, was arrested by the UAE authorities on charges of money laundering and tax evasion at Dubai airport while on transit to Istanbul to attend a family marriage.
Two days later, on July 16, the UAE sentenced Ghafoor in absentia, without any trial, to three years imprisonment and an $800,000 fine for “money laundering and tax evasion.”
UAE officials say the case was opened on United States’ request. According to the UAE State News agency website, the “case arose upon the American authorities’ request for judicial assistance, an allegation denied by the State Department.
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.
Asim Ghafoor, a licensed attorney in the state of Maryland and federal courts in D.C., Southern District of Texas, and Colorado, served as acting chief of staff and legislative assistant to congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez from 1997 to 2000. He was a close friend and former attorney of the slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Before his detention, he was advising Khashoggi’s Turkish fiance Hatice Cengiz in her litigation against Saudi Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.
He is also the co-founder of the US-based rights group, Democracy for the Arab World Now DAWN, which advocates for democracy in the Middle East. He 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.
Ghafoor is a media-savvy person who frequently spoke on law enforcement and international affairs on Media channels and at conferences and seminars. A fervent advocate for interfaith harmony through dialogue, he established a dialogue between Islamic scholars and the representatives of Danish cartoonists in Copenhagen, at the height of the Danish cartoon crisis in 2006.
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.
Ironically, this prison sentence came on the same day President Biden met with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) Al Nahyan. 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.
Notably, DAWN and Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz are currently in litigation against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the U.S. Court 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 says the UAE detained Asim Ghafoor on trumped up charges of being politically motivated because of his association with Khashoggi’s case and DAWN. However, the U.S. State 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.”
Justice For All believes that Ghafoor’s detention is arbitrary, politically motivated, and is a violation of due process according to the US and international human rights law.
- Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that nobody shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile;
- Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966) requires that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention;
- Article XXV. No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and according to the procedures established by pre-existing law. No person may be deprived of liberty for nonfulfillment of obligations of a purely civil character.
- Articles 7(2) and 7(3) of the American Convention on Human Rights) say that no one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment.
We urge the U.S. government to take immediate action for the release of Mr. Ghafoor.Protection from arbitrary detention is a fundamental right under both international human rights law and the US constitution.
Justice For All asks the United States government to demand that the UAE government:
- Grant immediate bail for Mr. Ghafoor;
- Grant immediate consular access for Mr. Ghafoor;
- Ask the UAE to immediately release all documentary evidence and case details;
- Ensure a fair trial according to international standards.
Resources List (Provided by the family)
Legal Research on Money Laundering in the UAE
Relevant Media Coverage
By DAWNMena with more details: https://dawnmena.org/uae-immediately-release-asim-ghafoor-former-lawyer-for-jamal-khashoggi-and-dawn-board-member/
By Middle East Eye:
By Independent, UK:
By Greenwich Time:
“US disputes UAE’s explanation of Khashoggi lawyer arrest” https://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/US-disputes-UAE-s-explanation-of-Khashoggi-lawyer-17311512.php
By CBS News – Recommend adding the link to your tweets:
Here is a tweet you can like, retweet and copy and change the tags to your own senators and house rep and tweet as your own: https://twitter.com/alik0219/status/1548191434594955267?s=20&t=BngVBJ0AgzXvejxn1uWmLQ
By CBS News, please like and retweet::
By Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul, please like and retweet:
By Virginia Congressman Don Byer from CD8, please like and retweet:
By Virginia Congressman Gerry Connely from CD11, please like and retweet: https://twitter.com/gerryconnolly/status/1548396473724784643?s=24&t=hwm3D38bMwjT3yYO9VsLjQ
By CAIR, please like and retweet:
By Mehdi Hasan,, please like and retweet:
 “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” United Nations,
 “OHCHR | International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx.
 “The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription,” National Archives, November 4, 2015, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript.; “American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,” Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), 2 May 1948, available at: http://humanrightscommitments.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/American-Declaration-of-the-Rights-and-Duties-of-Man.pdf; “American Convention on Human Rights,” Treaty Series, No. 36, San Jose: Organization of American States, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b36510.html