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Beyer Remarks At Press Conference to Advocate for U.S. Citizen Asim Ghafoor Following His Arrest in the UAE

Rep. Don Beyer today spoke at a press conference hosted by Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) to advocate for humane treatment and due process for Northern Virginian human rights lawyer Asim Ghafoor, who was recently arrested in the United Arab Emirates. Ghafoor, who resides in Wexton’s district, previously represented Jamaal Khashoggi. Beyer and Wexton were joined by Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

I stand here with my colleagues to bring attention to the case of Asim Ghafoor, an American citizen, Virginia resident and former legal counsel to Jamal Khashoggi, who was arrested by the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

He was tried in absentia and according to reports, without his knowledge, by Emirati authorities and did not have the opportunity to defend himself.

He has been in Emirati custody since July 14, and we have learned that he recently contracted COVID and was placed into quarantine.

Mr. Ghafoor has been unable to contact his attorneys and recent attempts by U.S. officials to contact him have been unsuccessful.

His appeal is set to begin on August 1, but my colleagues and I are extremely concerned that he will not be able to adequately defend himself from the so-far unsubstantiated charges brought against him.

His treatment by Emirati authorities is unacceptable. Mr. Ghafoor’s basic human rights and right to due process must be respected.

We are calling on the UAE to release him on bail immediately and provide him with access to legal counsel.

I would also like to note that these charges do not take place in a vacuum. 

The UAE has a history of committing serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, poor treatment of detainees, and suppressing freedom of expression.

Mr. Ghafoor is a board member of the rights group, Democracy for the Arab World Now, which has been critical of the UAE’s human rights record. This case raises serious questions about the Emirates’ motivations behind this conviction and Mr. Ghafoor’s treatment.