UAE sentences ex-lawyer of Jamal Khashoggi to three years in prison | United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates have sentenced the former lawyer of Jamal Khashoggi – the dissident Saudi journalist who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 – to three years in prison on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.

Abu Dhabi money laundering court has also ordered Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen, to pay a fine of more than $800,000 (£675,000) as a result of his conviction in absentia, UAE state news agency WAM reported .

The UAE-affiliated newspaper The National said he would be deported to the US after serving his sentence.

The UAE has framed Ghafoor’s arrest as a concerted action with the US to “fight transnational crimes.” State media said US authorities had asked the UAE for help with an investigation into his alleged tax evasion and suspicious money transfers.

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The jail term was announced a day after Washington-based human rights watchdog Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn) raised the alarm over the arrest of Ghafoor, one of its board members, at Dubai International Airport.

Dawn said Ghafoor, a Virginia civil rights lawyer who had represented Khashoggi and his fiancée Hatice Cengiz, was in transit to Istanbul on Thursday to attend a wedding when plainclothes security officers detained him and sent him to a detention center in Abu Dhabi before being arrested. was arrested. to change planes.

Ghafoor was not aware of any case against him and had traveled through Dubai without incident less than a year ago, DAWN said.

The US embassy in Abu Dhabi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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