UAE overturns Kashoggi's lawyer's 3-year-jail sentencetext_fields
Dubai: The United Arab Emirates administration overturned the sentence of three years in prison for the American citizen who had represented the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On Wednesday, the UAE decided to punish him with a fine of USD 1.36 million and deportation, Associated Press reported.
The U.S. citizen, Virginia-based lawyer Asim Ghafoor, had been convicted in absentia in the UAE on murky charges that included money laundering and tax evasion.
Authorities have not released specifics about the case, saying only that it involved illegal money transfers through the UAE banking system.
Last month, Ghafoor's supporters say Emirati security agents arrested him upon landing at Dubai International Airport and sent him to a detention facility in Abu Dhabi, where he was sentenced to three years in prison followed by deportation.
Ghafoor's lawyer spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to disrupt the proceedings as his client was still in the UAE. He said Ghafoor was ordered to pay the USD 1.36 million fine before he could leave the country.
There was no immediate acknowledgement from Emirati officials. The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi did not respond to the request for comment.
Ghafoor had been transiting through Dubai en route to Istanbul for a family wedding. His supporters say he had no idea the UAE had convicted him at some point in the past.
Emirati authorities claim they had investigated Ghafoor at the request of the United States. The State Department, however, said Washington had not ordered Ghafoor's detention. The Justice Department has declined to comment.
Ghafoor's lawyer rejected the charges of tax evasion and illegal money transfers. His supporters insist he had no opportunity to defend himself against the costs and describe his trial and conviction as unjust.
Ghafoor's connection to Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist who was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents in Turkey in 2018, has raised the profile of the case. However, the State Department said there was no indication Ghafoor's detention was related to his association with Khashoggi.