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UAE pays $10m compensation after Sheikh tortures US citizen

Image of the Crown Prince of UAE Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan [Roya News English/Facebook]
Image of the Crown Prince of UAE Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan [Roya News English/Facebook]

A US citizen received $10 million compensation after US State Department telegrams proved his claim that senior members of the ruling family in the UAE had detained and tortured him.

According to the Intercept, the settlement was completed and the compensation was paid secretly in 2013, according to documents leaked from the hacked email account of the UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al-Otaiba.

Khalid Hassan’s case against three senior members of the UAE ruling family, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and retired Brigadier General Saeed Hilal Al-Darmaki, was brought before the Federal Court in Los Angeles.

It dated back to 1984, when Hassan was an arms consultant for a member of the royal family. Hassan pointed out that Mohammed Bin Zayed personally oversaw his torture.

The American citizen claimed that he was held in a prison cell which was ten feet wide and that he was beaten and deprived of air conditioning for days during the hot summer.

He added that his hands and feet were bound for several hours and he was given rotten liquids which made him sick and caused him to hallucinate.

At that time, the State Department was working to locate Hassan and visit him, according to the ministry’s telegrams.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009, a few weeks after the administration of former US President Barack Obama took office.

While the judge warned that the lawsuit may be rejected because the defendants were in the UAE, lawyers argued that the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates was in the US and the judge to accept the case.

Hassan’s lawyers cited the State Department’s telegrams, which were published in 2006, that highlight attempts by the US embassy to locate and secure his release.

One of the telegrams, dating back to 1984, included the entry: “One of the private security agents said that Hassan was being held in Abu Dhabi under high level government supervision.”

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event about college affordability with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, United States September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

After initially denying the charges, the UAE admitted that Hassan was being held by a state security agency under high level government supervision.

Although US courts normally only hear trials in cases where due process has been exhausted in the country where the crimes where committed, Hassan argued that judiciary in the UAE is run and governed by the same people who tortured him and therefore the trial would not be independent.

During the case, Al-Otaiba worked behind the scenes to protect members of the ruling family. The president’s name was removed from the case for diplomatic reasons.

In 2011, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan thanked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Department of Justice for granting immunity to the president.

After the case, Al-Otaiba held several meetings with an American legal team, according to the documents. He tried to have the case dropped citing diplomatic immunity.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry

US Secretary of State, John Kerry

The UAE’s attempts failed and Mohammed Bin Zayed remained a defendant in the case. After the appointment of John Kerry as Secretary of State, Bin Zayed tried once again to have the case dropped.

In 2013, Kerry sent him a message saying: “I was pleased to see you in Abu Dhabi, and I thank you for your message on Hassan’s case against Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan and others.”

He then met with lawyers from the Office of the Legal Council at the Ministry of Interior and with the law firm defending the UAE, who told him that the United States filed a request for immunity on behalf of Mohammed Bin Zayed.

By May 2013, a $10 million reparation package had been signed for the closure of the case and for details of it not to be made public.

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