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Zach Shahin begins hunger strike in Dubai jail

deyar officeZack Shahin, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in a Dubai prison cell since March 2008 , declared a hunger strike to protest his continued imprisonment in Dubai  and the  U.S. government’s unwillingness to publicly intervene for his freedom.

In an open-letter addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama, Zack Shahin wrote: “I ask you to use all of your effort to strenuously object to my continued confinement, and given the fact that I have yet to be legally convicted of any crime, demand my immediate release from prison and return to my family here in the United States. As my government did before when it demanded my due process rights and I was granted bail, I now respectfully ask that you call U.A.E. President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan and ask him why I still remain in jail.”

Following his arrest in March 2008 amid allegations of corruption against various directors and officers of Deyaar, Shahin has been singled out as having participated in draining the company of equity. He has been imprisoned without upheld conviction for almost six years.

“The fear of jeopardizing the positive relationship of an ally apparently outweighs the rights of one American citizen,” said U.S. legal counsel to Zack Shahin. “Elsewhere, the American government aggressively pursues human rights causes, even those involving dissidents of other governments. The time has come for action by the Obama administration – not in intervening in the local affairs of a sovereign nation — but in demanding from that nation equality under its laws and a justice system independent of political influence. This is all Shahin’s family has ever asked for – his day in court to present his case, his witnesses, and his evidence. He has done so and has been vindicated. It is time for Dubai to throw out the remaining meritless charges and allow Shahin to return to his family.”