Beyer’s remarks during a press conference to defend US citizen Asim Ghafoor after his arrest in the United Arab Emirates

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

I am here with my colleagues to draw attention to the case of Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen, resident of Virginia and former legal adviser 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 the Emirati authorities and was given no opportunity to defend himself.

He has been detained in the Emirates since July 14 and we have learned that he recently contracted COVID and has been placed in quarantine.

Mr Ghafoor has been unable to contact his lawyers and recent attempts by US officials to contact him have been unsuccessful.

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

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

We call on the United Arab Emirates to release him on bail immediately and provide him with access to a lawyer.

I also want to emphasize that these accusations do not take place in a vacuum.

The UAE has a history of serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, mistreatment of detainees and suppression of freedom of expression.

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

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