WASHINGTON, June 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. legal counsel to Zack Shahin issued the following statement in response to yesterday's U.S. Department of State press briefing, during which State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated the U.S. government has urged U.A.E. to permit Zack Shahin's release on bail. After 4 years, two months, and 14 days, Zack Shahin still remains imprisoned in a Dubai prison cell without bail, trial, or conviction.
"It is all too obvious that quiet diplomacy between the United States and the United Arab Emirates has failed miserably. Despite discussions on a bilateral level between both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder and their respective U.A.E. counterparts, Dubai's authorities still insist on holding Zack Shahin for over four years without bail. Diplomatic notes sent between the U.S. and U.A.E. governments have gone unanswered and Zack Shahin continues to face 30-day continuance, after 30-day continuance with no fair and open trial to prove his innocence in sight. The U.S. government has urged U.A.E. authorities, via private, diplomatic channels, that Zack Shahin's criminal charges should be consolidated, yet Dubai's prosecutor continues to target Zack with new charges seemingly on a whim. When the charges don't stick since they are false accusations, new charges are filed. Enough is enough. Yesterday's press briefing was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. During the briefing, Washington Times' diplomatic correspondent Guy Taylor asked State Department spokesman Mark Toner what a resolution for Zack's case would be. Toner replied, 'we've also urged them to permit his (Shahin's) release on bail.' How many more times must the U.S. government be embarrassed by Dubai's authorities? Secretary of State Clinton has the moral authority to publicly demand a country follows the rule of law and affords defendants due process rights. She has publicly spoken out in support of Ukrainian politicians, Chinese dissidents, and Russian oligarchs. Now is the time for Secretary Clinton to support a U.S. citizen in need. Secretary Clinton, do not allow your legacy to be tarnished with the death of a U.S. citizen languishing for four years without bail, trial, or conviction in a Dubai prison cell – publicly demand that U.A.E. authorities grant Zack Shahin immediate and reasonable bail."
The full question and answer exchange between Washington Times' reporter Guy Taylor and State Department spokesman Mark Toner follows below:
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.
For more information on Zack Shahin, please visit www.FreeZack.com.
U.S. legal counsel to Zack Shahin are: Jim Jatras, Rebekah Poston, and Eric Akers.
CONTACT: DARREN SPINCK (202-669-4418 / [email protected])
SOURCE U.S. Legal Counsel for Zack Shahin