Statement on Mr. Asim Ghafoor: An American Civil Rights Lawyer Turned Political Prisoner
Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | July 18, 2022 — This past Thursday, Mr. Asim Ghafoor, former lawyer of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was sentenced to three years in prison for charges relating to tax evasion and money laundering in the United States. He was detained in the Dubai airport and is still being held in Abu Dhabi.
In other words, a foreign government has independently determined that an American citizen has committed a crime in the United States and decided to arrest him, all while our State Department has issued a statement saying that it “has not sought the arrest of Mr. Ghafoor.”
This is deeply troubling.
A nation that benefits from a long-standing diplomatic relationship and is the recipient of our most advanced military weapons systems felt it appropriate to unilaterally take such action.
It’s also worth mentioning that Mr. Ghafoor, in addition to being Mr. Khashoggi’s attorney, also co-founded an organization called Democracy for the Arab World Now. From the information we have received so far, Mr. Ghafoor is a political prisoner.
The State Department’s response also raises more questions and concerns, and we at the Muslim Public Affairs Council are pressing the Biden Administration for answers.
If Mr. Ghafoor is a subject of a financial investigation that the UAE claims he was, does the IRS or the Treasury Department have any corroborating information? Why aren’t these matters handled in the U.S. where he resides and is a citizen? Moreover, what is President Biden doing to ensure the safety of Americans traveling abroad?
We are going to be asking these questions as we engage the Administration and the relevant committees on Capitol Hill, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.
We deserve to know what really happened and what our government is doing to ensure the safe return of Mr. Ghafoor to his home and his family.