The civil rights lawyer, who represented the slain Saudi journalist, was arrested while in transit through Dubai airport, an official and a human rights group said.
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have arrested an American citizen and civil rights attorney who previously served as a lawyer for the journalist’s murder. Jamal Khashoggiaccording to an official and a human rights group based in the United States.
A UAE government official confirmed to Reuters news agency on Saturday that Asim Ghafoor was arrested while transiting through Dubai airport on July 14 after being convicted in absentia of money laundering.
A US official earlier on Saturday said Washington was aware of the arrest, but could not say whether President Joe Biden raised the issue during bilateral talks with the UAE president on the sidelines of a summit. Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia.
“There is no indication that it has anything to do with the Khashoggi issue,” the US official said.
Khashoggi is killed by Saudi agents in 2018 at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in an operation that US intelligence said was approved by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). MBS denies involvement.
Human rights group Democracy for the Arab World Today (DAWN), of which Ghafoor is a board member, said in a statement Friday that the Virginia-based civil rights attorney is on his way to Istanbul to attend a family wedding when he was arrested.
‘The case is reopened’
The United Arab Emirates official told Reuters that the UAE had approved the US Embassy’s request to conduct a consular visit to Ghafoor. He added that because the first trial was held in absentia, Ghafoor was allowed to request a retrial.
“A request was received and approved, resulting in the case being reopened and related legal proceedings underway,” the official said.
DAWN quoted US consular officials as saying the lawyer was being held at a detention facility in Abu Dhabi. The group also said Ghafoor was not aware of any legal cases against him.
It speak conviction was brought “without due process” and demanded his immediate release.
Global human rights groups say the UAE has jailed hundreds of activists, academics and lawyers in unfair trials on widespread charges.
The UAE has dismissed the allegations as baseless, saying it is committed to protecting human rights.