Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have detained Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen and civil rights attorney who previously represented deceased writer Jamal Khashoggi, according to the US-based rights group DAWN, on whose board Ghafoor sits.
Ghafoor was arrested on July 14 while passing through Dubai International Airport on accusations connected to an in absentia conviction for money laundering based on evidence heard by Emirati courts, according to a UAE government official.
A senior US administration source had earlier told reporters that the US was aware of the situation, but could not say whether President Joe Biden would bring it up in bilateral meetings with the UAE president on the sidelines of an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia.
“There’s no indication that it’s related to the Khashoggi case,” the official continued.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi operatives in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018, in an operation sanctioned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to US intelligence. The prince denies any wrongdoing.
Ghafoor, a civil rights attorney based in Virginia, was en route to Istanbul for a family wedding, according to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
Responding to a Reuters request for comment, an Emirati official said the UAE had accepted the US embassy’s request for a consular visit and that because the first trial was held in absentia, Ghafoor is allowed to request a retrial.