Free US Citizen Zack Shahin, Imprisoned in Dubai 6 Year Without Upheld Conviction
- State Department, OHCHR, White House, Ban ki-Moon, Navi Pillay, EU, European Parliament, Amnesty
Zack Shahin, 49, is the former CEO of Dubai-based Deyaar realty. In the span of a few short years, Shahin successfully converted this small cap development business into a multi-billion dollar global competitor in the commercial and residential real estate market. An American citizen, Shahin is married and the father of two.
Before the financial crisis struck global economies, both large and small, Zack Shahin, former CEO of Deyaar Realty, successfully converted this small cap development business into a multi-billion dollar global competitor in the commercial and residential real estate market. However, when markets began to feel the effect of such downturn, the highly successful career of Shahin, a U.S. citizen working in the Middle East, came to an abrupt end following his arrest and detention by Dubai security services on March 23, 2008. Amid allegations of corruption against various directors and officers of Deyaar, Shahin has been wrongly singled out as having participated in draining the company of equity.
He has been imprisoned without trial by the Dubai Government under inhumane conditions for over six years suffering violations of his due process rights under the laws of Dubai. Although various charges have been filed, no resolution of any of them has taken place. Some cases have even been dismissed on the eve before trial, just when Shahin was about to present his defense to the claims against him.
Shahin’s mistreatment has been raised by the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, during bilateral discussions with top U.A.E. officials. During Secretary Clinton’s meeting with her U.A.E. counterpart, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, she addressed how Emiratis accused of comparable crimes have been treated far more leniently than Shahin. These U.S. Government concerns have been raised by the U.S. Ambassador and Consul General during multiple meetings and phone calls with U.A.E. law enforcement officials as well. Still, nothing has changed, Shahin’s due process rights continue to be violated, and no end to his suffering is in sight.
Prior to becoming CEO of Deyaar Development, Shahin was retail vice president and head of sales for service and distribution at MashreqBank in United Arab Emirates and Qatar. At MashreqBank, Shahin led the sales, service, distribution and retail operations of both the Retail BankingGroup & Osool Finance Company (subsidiary of the Bank) and was responsible for a total staff of 845, operating 45 branches in the UAE and Qatar. Under Shahin, retail Banking profits grew by 52% in 2001 and 62% in 2002 with absolute revenue in excess of $ 80 million. Shahin previously worked for Pepsi Cola International in United Arab Emirates, most recently as a franchise director. At Pepsico, Shahin was assigned to an under-performing franchise. Under his leadership, share loss was halted and the franchise regained market leadership. Shahins franchise expanded production capacity by 45 percent to meet potential local market and export growth thanks in part to the introduction of an additional canning line.
Shahin received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting finance from the Lebanese University, and a BAI graduate degree in retail banking from the University of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Retail Banking.
REUTERS: 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
About Zack Shahin's Plight Since His March 2008 Arrest and Imprisonment:
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.
We, the undersigned, demand that the international community at all levels bring all possible pressure to bear upon the government of Dubai to observe internationally recognized norms of justice with respect to Zack Shahin.
As no conviction against him has been upheld after six years of imprisonment under harsh conditions, this should mean releasing him from prison and ensuring a swift resolution of any pending charges in strictest observance of international judicial norms.
We further demand that the United State government take a far more active role in pursuing the case of Mr. Shahin and in defending his rights.
The Free US Citizen Zack Shahin, Imprisoned in Dubai 6 Year Without Upheld Conviction petition to State Department, OHCHR, White House, Ban ki-Moon, Navi Pillay, EU, European Parliament, Amnesty was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.