File (Photo credit: dawnmena.org)
UAE authorities have released US attorney Asim Ghafoor, who represented Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
Ghafoor is headed back to his home country after an Emirati court on 10 August upheld his earlier in-absentia conviction, ordering him to pay a fine but revoking a three-year jail term handed down in May.
The lawyer was transiting through Dubai airport on 14 July when he was detained on money laundering and tax evasion charges.
During the ruling on Wednesday, the court revealed it had confiscated 18 million dirhams ($4.9 million) illegally moved through country.
Ghafoor’s supporters said he was denied due process and was unaware of the charges against him before being detained. Some alleged the arrest was politically motivated, citing his ties to Khashoggi and work with rights groups critical of Abu Dhabi.
UAE officials have repeatedly said the case against Ghafoor was strictly about financial crimes.
According to US media reports, Ghafoor has been the target of US spy agencies due to his work representing Muslims in civil rights cases.
His arrest was made public during US President’s Joe Biden first trip to Saudi Arabia, during which he claims he confronted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) about his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
However, Saudi officials cast doubts on Biden’s assertions, saying the US President did not blame MbS for the murder.
Last year, a US intelligence report determined that the crown prince authorized the operation to kidnap, torture, and dismember the Saudi journalist.