UAE offers to free American hunger striker on bail
A court in the United Arab Emirates has offered to release on bail an American businessman accused of embezzlement who has been on hunger strike in jail since May, the US embassy said today.
Washington has repeatedly called for Zack Shahin's case to be resolved. He has been detained since he was arrested in 2008 while at the helm of Dubai real estate firm Deyaar. There have been hearings in his case in Dubai, but no judgment.
Last week, the United States said it had "serious concerns" over Shahin's health and urged the UAE to release him on bail. It has also asked for more transparency in the case.
"I can confirm that conditions for bail have been set at 5 million dirhams (£870,000)," a spokesman for the US embassy in Abu Dhabi told Reuters.
Shahin's lawyer said he hoped to secure his release early next week.
"There was a concern whether he would be able to accumulate the money. But we are certain now that the funding can be arranged," Erik Akers told Reuters.
He said that some funds had already been transferred and the remaining amount needed to come from the United States.
"With the weekend coming, he may not be released until Sunday or Monday," he added.
Shahin is due to have two court hearings later this month when a verdict could be handed down in his case, the lawyer said.
In May, four other expatriates jailed in Dubai said they had gone on hunger strike to protest against the lengthy prison sentences handed down to them for bouncing cheques - a criminal offence in the UAE.
The men, most of them real estate developers and businessmen who worked in Dubai during its economic boom, fell into debt when the emirate's property bubble burst after the 2008 global credit crisis.
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