During a recent trip to Dubai, plainclothes police detained Sherif Osman. He is still in custody. The ex American air force captain was arrested in Dubai for posting a youtube video.
Sherif Osman, a US citizen and former captain in the Air Force, was detained by UAE police after criticizing the Egyptian government on YouTube from his residence in America, where he believed his constitutional right to free speech would protect him.
After earning his degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2019, Osman, 46, now operates a small business in Westfield, Massachusetts. His opinion on the political climate in Egypt has earned him a following on YouTube of 35.2k followers as a side interest.
Watch the video below:
Osman was unaware that his public criticism of Egyptian president Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi, which followed his recent support for demands for a nonviolent protest against el-Sisi during the November 11th UN climate summit (COP27) meeting in Egypt, attracted the attention of Egypt and the UAE.
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A day after Egyptian officials forbade his mother from leaving the country without a reason, plainclothes police confronted him on the street, grabbed him, and rushed him into arrest when he was in Dubai on November 6 to introduce his new fiancée to his family. Osman is set to be extradited to Egypt, where Detained in Dubai founder and CEO Radha Stirling warns he will be tortured, imprisoned, and eventually killed for his defamation of the government.
“There are currently some 60,000 political prisoners held in Egypt, with hundreds dying in custody every year,” explained Stirling. “Inmates report being kept in filthy, overcrowded cells, being denied life-saving medications, and being subject to torture repeatedly… Even without violent abuse by the police, the conditions of the [Egyptian] jails are themselves life-threatening, which is not even mentioning the inhumane conditions and systematic torture that exists in UAE prisons. Though he is being treated well now, Sherif’s life is in danger in Dubai detention, and if the US allows his extradition, we fear that his fate will be sealed.”
“The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, has bankrolled the el-Sisi government since the coup in 2013,” she added. “And Egypt and the Emirates have had a symbiotic relationship politically and economically ever since. Sherif’s extradition is certain unless the US takes a stand … This is almost a replay of the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, except that Sherif is still alive, and the US has a chance to intervene before it is too late.”
Osman, in contrast to Khashoggi, is a veteran as well as an American citizen. Stirling promised that her group, Detained in Dubai, would contact the American embassy in the United Arab Emirates and contact Osman’s congressional representatives to ask them to do their part in getting Osman home.
No legal basis for Sherif’s arrest or extradition
“There is no legal basis for his detention, and no grounds for his extradition; the Egyptian government does not get to punish Americans just because they don’t like what we say.”
According to Interpol’s guidelines, political motivations are prohibited in Red Notices, and extradition of political dissidents is not permitted. “Egypt and UAE are once again abusing the Interpol system to expand their jurisdictions, creating a kind of authoritarian axis. The current president of Interpol, Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, is himself a former high-ranking Emirati official accused of torture; so, immediate and forceful intervention by the United States government is the only hope Sherif has to regain his freedom.”
“It’s unbelievably stressful,” Sherif’s wife Saija remarked. Her ideal holiday has become a nightmare because of her husband’s predicament.
“If he gets sent to Egypt, he will never be seen alive again,” Saija continued. “We are begging for the US government to step in diplomatically. It’s not right that he can be arrested despite having committed no crime. Egypt should not be able to have people detained who criticize the country from outside of their borders. Imagine the kind of slippery slope that would create… No journalist or activist would be safe.”