Former lawyer for slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi arrested in UAE as Biden visits region, rights group says – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) – A human rights group said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arrested US citizen Asim Ghafoor, the former lawyer for the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) said on Friday press release that Ghafoor, who is also a co-founder and board member of their organization, was arrested by UAE security agents at Dubai International Airport.

DAWN said they notified the US State Department of his detention on Thursday as he entered Dubai en route to Istanbul from the US. DAWN said US consular officials met with Ghafoor on Friday and said he was being held “in absentia” in Abu Dhabi on money laundering charges, but that Ghafoor had “no knowledge of any legal matter against him and no reason to believe him in any.” litigation in the UAE,” read a DAWN press release on Friday.

Ghafoor passed through Dubai International Airport without incident less than a year ago, according to DAWN.

CNN has reached out to the UAE government for further comment.

“We are appalled by the unjustified detention of our board member and are extremely concerned for his health and physical safety given the well-documented record of ill-treatment in the United Arab Emirates, including torture and inhumane treatment,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN. said Friday. “We urge the Biden administration to secure the release of an arbitrarily detained American lawyer before agreeing to meet the UAE leader [Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan] tomorrow in Jeddah.”

US officials said on Saturday they were “aware” of reports that Ghafoor was arrested in the United Arab Emirates but declined to give further details about his arrest.

“I will say there is no indication it has anything to do with Khashoggi or anything else. But we are aware of it,” said a senior US government official.

When President Joe Biden met with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, both leaders ignored shouted questions about Khashoggi’s former lawyer. Biden publicly invited the UAE leader to Washington before the end of the year.

Another government official said the US had raised Ghafoor’s detention “at a high level with the Emirati authorities” and “requested additional information” about his situation.

US Embassy consular officials visited Ghafoor on Saturday, the official said.

“We have expressed our expectation that Mr. Ghafoor’s rights to a fair and public hearing and guarantees of a fair trial will be fully respected and that he will be treated humanely, as well as that U.S. rights to consular access will be fully respected,” said the officer.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist who criticized Saudi rulers, was killed in a consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018.

The US released one intelligence report Last year that concluded, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.

Despite once promising to make Saudi Arabia an “outcast” on the world stage, Biden has fist bumped the crown prince up Meet him in Jeddah on Friday – a salute critics argued bin Salman confirmed on the world stage and Washington Post editor Fred Ryan called it “shameful”.

Biden later told reporters that he raised Khashoggi’s murder directly with Prince bin Salman and said he believed the crown prince was responsible.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan told reporters on Saturday: “Responding to President Biden’s comments on the Khashoggi affair, the Crown Prince has been very clear that this crime, while very unfortunate and heinous, is something that the Kingdom very seriously and in a way sympathetic to its position as a responsible country. These are problems, mistakes that happen in every country, including the United States.”

DAWN is an organization that describes itself on its website as “a dedicated group of analysts, researchers, advocates and activists aiming to realize Khashoggi’s vision to help advance democracy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa.”

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Nate Jones

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