Moad Al Hashmi is a citizen of Libya, and a British resident who had relocated to the UAE in 2008 to pursue opportunities in his line of business. Without causing any provocation, Al Hashmi was taken forcibly from a cafe in the United Arab Emirates by the State Security Department, on September 28th, 2014. The cafe was stormed by the men of the State Security Department, who forcefully arrested Al Hashmi without identifying themselves as law enforcement agents or even letting him know the offence he has committed. They searched all his belongings, handcuffed and blindfolded him after which they forced him into a vehicle and took him to a solitary cell where he was left for eight (8) months; denying him any contact with his family, the Libyan Embassy or anybody at all. While in this facility he was deprived of his clothing, dignity, healthy living, left him for several days without access to a bathroom, and any form of companionship, and made it difficult for him to find comfort or keep warm in his cell. While all these were happening, all that Al Hashmi could say was “Please why am I held prisoner, what have I done to deserve this torturous, cruel, in-human and degrading treatment”. “After about ten months of this ill-treatment, they questioned me about my line of business and I discovered that they believed that I had been part of the political and social upheaval in Libya and wanted information about creating further instability in the nation. These men often resorted to water boarding, electrocution, and other physical torture in their quest to get me to reveal something I did not know or to agree to act as an agent in my home country. I realized that they did not care about me as an individual, but as a symbol of my nationality and capitalist success”, said Al Hashmi. It took ten months before Al Hashmi was able to contact his family members who had looked for him and tried to get answers from the UAE about the whereabouts of their loved one. When they heard from Al Hashmi and discovered his abysmal conditions they called the local police and demanded to know the charges brought against him. They received vague responses and no definitive answers about where or why he was being held and were told by the local police that he had not broken any laws at all. Troubled by the situation, the family started a “FreeMoad campaign” aimed at gathering support for the release of Al Hashmi. Through petitions, and demonstrations at UAE embassies and support from international communities, Al Hashmi was given opportunity for a trial. In July of 2015, the trial began after nearly a year of being a captive. During the trial Al Hashmi finally learned why he was being held. The prosecuting lawyers were determined to paint him as a political radical and accused him of inciting rebellion. His captors demanded the death penalty and for months’, false evidence was brought against him trying to convince the judge and the world that their mistreatment of Al Hashmi was just. In the end, the judge who was convinced that Al Hashmi had done nothing illegal supported his case and on March 14, 2016, declared him innocent and ordered that he would be released. After 2 weeks of being acquitted by the High Supreme Court, on March 28, 2016, he was released but that was only for a moment. Seeing that they could not hold him unlawfully, the UAE state security services made him a virtual prison. His passport was seized, his bank accounts frozen, and all other forms of identification were taken from him. He was unable to pay his bills, perform any business, or leave the country to return to his family. While he is able to maintain a residence in UAE, he cannot embrace his life and is at the mercy of those who are trying to hold him unlawfully. His family and friends still await a verdict and reach out to the international communities to Free Moad and other four Libyan businessmen who were acquitted by the same authority on May 30, 2016.
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