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Friday, Jan 27, 2023

American Avoids Extradition to Egypt After Release From Dubai Detention

American Avoids Extradition to Egypt After Release From Dubai Detention

Sherif Osman, an Egyptian-American dual national, is back in the U.S. after facing possible extradition to Egypt over criticizing the government.
An American citizen who was detained in Dubai for seven weeks and faced possible extradition to his native Egypt over criticizing the government there and calling on Egyptians to protest is back home after he was freed.

Sherif Osman, an Egyptian-American dual national, landed in Boston on Wednesday afternoon in what he called “a miracle” he believes was linked to high-level intervention. He was released soon after three unidentified Emirati officials visited him in Dubai’s central prison on Dec. 22, he said Thursday.

“The checkout [from jail] that normally takes three to five hours, I was actually out on the street in 30 minutes. So it was like, ‘Let him out now, like immediately out,’” Mr. Osman said. “It would have not happened any faster than that without the three angels, no joke.”

When The Wall Street Journal wrote about Mr. Osman’s detention in November, a U.A.E. official said he had been arrested based on a request from an Arab League entity that coordinates among member states on law enforcement and national security. The official said the U.A.E. was working to secure legal documentation required for extradition.

On Thursday, a U.A.E. official said Mr. Osman was released from custody on Dec. 22 “in accordance with bilateral agreements in place and adherence with the U.A.E.’s judicial cooperation framework as per the U.A.E.’s laws.”

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said consular officers were in contact with Mr. Osman during his detention and provided all appropriate consular services.

“We are very pleased by reports that U.S. citizen Sherif Osman made it back safely to the United States to be reunited with his loved ones,” the spokesperson said.

The extradition request was based on charges of incitement against government institutions, said Mr. Osman. He believes recent comments he made online about alleged financial corruption by members of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi‘s family may have sparked the case.

An Egyptian government spokesman didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Mr. Osman, 46 years old, has been critical of the Egyptian government for years, appearing in videos in 2019 created by a former Egyptian contractor based in Spain who accused Mr. Sisi and the military of misusing state funds, sparking protests that year in Egypt.

Mr. Osman urged Egyptians to organize demonstrations during a United Nations climate summit in November held in the beach city of Sharm El Sheikh and attended by world leaders, including President Biden.

A former captain in the Egyptian Air Force, Mr. Osman deserted in 2004 while attending a training course in the U.S. and has never returned to Egypt. He earned an advanced degree in Texas and now runs a small business for legalized marijuana cultivation.

He said he had been treated respectfully by Emirati authorities but remains traumatized by the experience. Two days after arriving in Dubai for a family visit, he was taken off the street outside a restaurant by two men wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked vehicle.
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