The family of an American businessman jailed in the United Arab Emirates for 15 years say he is rotting in a ‘dungeon’ prison – contracting a flesh-eating infection and on the verge of death – and claim the US arrested him for WNBA Overlook star Brittney Griner.
Zack Shahin, 58, is serving a 53-year sentence for fraud, embezzlement and other financial crimes. His heartbroken family insist he is innocent and illegally imprisoned for crimes that are wrong and politically motivated as they continue to fight desperately for his release.
Shahin’s health has deteriorated as he battles an infection in his lungs and rotting flesh and skin wounds as his family believe his condition is far worse than they know. Almost three months ago, his condition became so serious that he was taken to a hospital in Dubai, where he had numerous but unsuccessful surgeries.
The family submitted letters of clemency to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 23, 2022 and after several revisions, they were sent to the UAE on December 6.
But while this was taking place, the Shahins were unaware that the US had been negotiating the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner – who was released from a Russian prison on December 8, 2022 after the US reached a settlement for the return of international arms dealer Viktor Bout had scored – that UAE helped facilitate.
Zack Shahin and his two children have been in a Dubai prison for 15 years. His son Ramy told Fox News, “They completely let us down … they completely sidelined us.” “Maybe we’re not newsworthy enough for them — we’re not famous, we’re just an ordinary family — and they just left us.”
Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison on December 8, 2022 after the US struck a prisoner swap deal that brought back international arms dealer Viktor Bout. After President Biden gave final approval, the swap took place in the UAE after an agreement was reached
Shahin’s son, Ramy, told Fox News, “They completely let us down… they completely sidelined us.”
“Maybe we’re not newsworthy enough for them — we’re not famous, we’re just an ordinary family — and they just left us,” he said.
Martin Lonergan, a British activist who met Zack in prison, told Fox News it’s a “dungeon,” a place “where you’re pushed away to be forgotten.”
“It’s rotting,” Longeran said. “If you can imagine a man dying from rotting away… they cut off parts of Zack, and he dies trying to fight the infection.”
He said in part, “I have never seen such injustice in my life.”
Born in Lebanon, the married father of two was a truck driver at Pepsi and eventually worked his way up to a senior position at PepsiCo and went to the UAE in 2004 after being hired by the country’s finance minister and chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank, Deyaar Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash.
During his four years as CEO, the $5 million private company grew into a $1.5 billion company and the second largest listed real estate company on the Dubai Stock Exchange.
Zack Shahin, 58, is serving a 53-year sentence for fraud, embezzlement and other financial crimes. His heartbroken family insist he is innocent and illegally imprisoned for crimes that are wrong and politically motivated while they fight desperately for his release
Zack Shahin pictured with his wife, whom his son Ramy described as a shell of a person as his father was being held captive against his will
Two years later when Dubai’s ruler died, the political aftermath engulfed bin Kharbash and hampered Shahin’s success and eventual freedom.
After resigning from the bank in early March 2008, he was kidnapped by state security and charged with crimes he never committed, the family said.
His family said he was held for 13 months before formal charges were brought against him. He was released on bail and then spent the next nine years in prison before being finally convinced in 2017. He was sentenced to 49 years imprisonment, which did not include time served.
The family said the Big Four accounting firms audited Deyaar for the years that Shahin was CEO and found no financial losses or evidence of the financial crimes he was accused of.
“My dad is just an ordinary American who started working hard to make a name for himself,” Ramy told Fox News.
“He took this little real estate company and made it what it became and built so much of what Dubai is known for. And then they just brought him down.’
According to Detained International, a British organization that provides free legal aid to prisoners, Shahin is the longest-serving American officer abroad.
A police officer enters Al-Awir Central Prison in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 21, 2020. It is unclear if this is the prison where Shahin is being held
When President Biden sponsored an existing hostage recovery bill in July, the family felt a little more hopeful.
The law directs US authorities to communicate more with families of Americans illegally detained abroad and allows their captors to impose sanctions.
But her request to intercede for her loved one under the law, the Levinson Act, was denied within five days.
“I think the Biden administration and the State Department should look at our case and treat it with a little more respect,” Ramy said. ‘Because we didn’t even get any of it.’
Human Rights Watch, Detained International and the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation are some of the human rights organizations that have attempted to raise awareness of Shahin’s inhuman and appalling conditions.
But the groups claim they have had no response from the US Government.
His family, heartbroken, says they will keep fighting.
“I’ll keep fighting until he gets out,” Ramy said. “And if I fail, then so be it. But I’ll never let that go.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11635061/Family-American-imprisoned-UAE-prison-15-years-claims-abandoned-Brittney-Griner.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The family of an American jailed for 15 years in the United Arab Emirates prison claim the US dumped him because of Brittney Griner