(LOS ANGELES, CA, 7/23/09) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today expressed deep concern over the lack of openness in the trial of U.S. citizen Naji Hamdan in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).
Hamdan, 43, was put on trial this week after having been detained for almost a year. Judge Shahab al-Hamadi closed the trial to the public without giving any reasons, according to news reports.
The judge’s decision, a clear affront to international judicial norms, is the latest challenge hampering efforts to bring justice to Hamdan, whose detention since August 2008 has been marred by reports of torture, lack of due process and involvement of one or more U.S. government agencies.
Hamdan lived in Southern California for more than two decades, where he has been a well-respected community leader. He is a father of three children. In a sworn statement to a U.S. consular official in U.A.E., he said he was kicked, made to sit in an electric chair with threats that he might be electrocuted, punched and slapped, blindfolded, and beaten with a large stick and subsequently forced to sign false statements – statements that will likely be submitted as evidence in his closed trial.
Additionally, according to his attorneys, six weeks before Hamdan’s arrest by U.A.E. security forces, he was questioned by FBI agents at a U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi. He was also previously questioned and monitored by the FBI while in the U.S. However, no charges were ever filed against him in America.
In April, CAIR-LA along with seven other advocacy, religious and interfaith groups, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to intervene and investigate immediately allegations of torture, lack of due process and involvement of any government agencies.
“We are appalled by the continued disregard for due process of an American detained and reportedly tortured abroad, coupled with our government’s seeming inaction to protect one of its own citizens,” said CAIR-LA Staff Attorney Ameena Qazi. “Such inhumane treatment flies in the face of President Obama’s message of respect for all Americans and building positive relations with the Muslim world.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, firstname.lastname@example.org