An Emirati court sentenced the former lawyer of the journalist and Saudi dissident murdered in 2018 Jamal Khashoggi, Asim Ghafoor, to three years in prison for tax evasion and money laundering, arrested last Thursday when he made a stopover in Dubai, the official agency reported this Sunday. of Emirati news, WAM.
The case against Ghafoor, a US national, was initiated in the Arab country at the request of US authorities, according to WAM. The media detailed that a criminal court in Abu Dhabi had already convicted the lawyer in absentia of two crimes of tax evasion and money laundering related to a tax evasion operation in the United States.
In addition to three years in prison, the sentence includes a fine of three million Emirati dinars (about $816,000) and his deportation.
The investigation against him by the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecutor’s Office began, the official agency said, at a request from the US authorities, who were investigating him for tax evasion and for making suspicious money transfers.
The investigation in the Arab country, after verifying the transactions under suspicion, charged him with a crime of money laundering through international money transfers whose origin was not justified and he was sentenced in absentia, he added without specifying the date of that decision.
Ghafoor was a lawyer for Saudi journalist and dissident Khashoggi and his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, and co-founded the organization Democracy Now for the Arab World (DAWN) two years ago along with other friends of the former columnist for the newspaper The Washington Post.
Announcing his arrest Thursday at Abu Dhabi international airport while on a stopover on a trip to Istanbul, DAWN said the arrest appeared to be “a politically motivated absentee conviction” and called on Joe Biden to cancel the meeting he planned to hold with Bin Zayed during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
The arrest occurred at a politically sensitive moment as Biden was on his first visit as president to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman, whom he has blamed for the death of Khashoggi by agents. Saudi at his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The arrest and the court ruling provoked the condemnation of the organization Prodemocracia, in which he was a director, and other international NGOs. Officials from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also condemned Ghafoor’s arrest and called on Biden for his trip to the Arab kingdom. The US president met this Saturday with the Emirati president, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahayan, and invited him to visit the United States.
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