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American Held in Incommunicado Detention in Yemen Calls Family, Says He’s Being Beaten & Gassed

Photo of Sharif Mobley with his daughter (From Reprieve)

An American citizen in Yemeni custody who his lawyers say has been disappeared for over 180 days has surfaced. One of his lawyers reports he was apparently allowed to make two calls to his wife and mother last night and a guard said he is being held in the Central Security Forces base in central Sanaa.

Sharif Mobley, a 30-year-old man from New Jersey who was living with his family in Yemen, was essentially kidnapped by Yemeni officials and shot in January 2010. He was taken to a police hospital then a general hospital. FBI agents interrogated him numerous times between January and April. Allegedly, he tried to escape from the general hospital and shot a guard, who later died. He was charged with murder and has been in custody of Yemen authorities awaiting trial.

Mobley wanted to make a phone call to his family to tell them he loved him and speak with them “in case [he didn’t] get a chance to do so again.” He was able to make a twenty-minute call to his wife and a five-minute call to his mother.

Nzinga Islam, Mobley’s wife, said in a statement, “The whole family [is] totally distraught over Sharif. He sounded very low and weak on the phone, and told us ‘they are beating the hell out of me’ and that they sprayed him with some kind of gas. He said he wanted to say he loved us in case he never got a chance to again. If the guard on the phone told the truth, he is held on the military base in Hadda street. Why isn’t our own government stopping this abuse of an American? We don’t see how he can have any fair trial in Yemen now.”

He has “very little food and had been “forced to drink water out of bottles that had been used to urinate in,” according to Reprieve attorney Cori Crider, who has been representing Mobley.

This is one of the first times since he disappeared in February that his lawyers and family have been able to learn details from him about how he is being treated.

According to Crider, “He’s gotten to call his family once before, but it was very short and he wasn’t able to give much in the way of information. So, this is the first real information of substance we’ve got from him about the conditions he is currently experiencing.”

“We are still not certain if what the guard said on the phone was true,” Crider added, that he is being held in the Central Security Forces base. “I also don’t know whether he has been moved around or not. We have tried to go to the facility,” where the guard said he was being held.

But his attorneys have, thus far, not been permitted to meet with Mobley if he is being held in this facility.

It may be the case that he is being held in the Central Security Forces base because it has been rumored that he is “being held by the National Security Bureau (NSB).” There is a small NSB section in the base.

US diplomats have been in contact with Mobley. However, when attorneys have asked for any sort of information on his location, they have not provided answers.

Crider further declared, “I’ve been trying for months to get straight answers out of the State Department about where my client is and what they are doing. Although it is clear they know where he is—they have seen him—they refuse to tell us. Combined with what Sharif told his wife about their treatment, it’s stacking up to a pretty sorry story.”

In June, a judge in Yemen issued an official court order demanding that Yemeni Attorney General Ali Alwash bring Mobley to his next court hearing on August 20. The day of the hearing Yemeni officials did not bring Mobley to court, and it was the fourth hearing where officials did not produce him.

The calls to family did not change the fact he is being held incommunicado while in prison. Authorities still refuse to let him meet with his attorneys.

Mobley’s attorneys suspect that their client has been held in these conditions because US agencies wish to hide their involvement in his case, particularly their role in his interrogations.

An array of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have been submitted to the State Department, CIA, FBI, the Justice Department, and other agencies to “determine whether the US government is feckless, indifferent, or actively implicated” in Mobley’s incommunicado detention.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

American Held in Incommunicado Detention in Yemen Calls Family, Says He’s Being Beaten & Gassed

Photo of Sharif Mobley with his daughter (From Reprieve)

An American citizen in Yemeni custody who his lawyers say has been disappeared for over 180 days has surfaced. One of his lawyers reports he was apparently allowed to make two calls to his wife and mother last night and a guard said he is being held in the Central Security Forces base in central Sanaa.

Sharif Mobley, a 30-year-old man from New Jersey who was living with his family in Yemen, was essentially kidnapped by Yemeni officials and shot in January 2010. He was taken to a police hospital then a general hospital. FBI agents interrogated him numerous times between January and April. Allegedly, he tried to escape from the general hospital and shot a guard, who later died. He was charged with murder and has been in custody of Yemen authorities awaiting trial.

Mobley wanted to make a phone call to his family to tell them he loved him and speak with them “in case [he didn’t] get a chance to do so again.” He was able to make a twenty-minute call to his wife and a five-minute call to his mother.

Nzinga Islam, Mobley’s wife, said in a statement, “The whole family [is] totally distraught over Sharif. He sounded very low and weak on the phone, and told us ‘they are beating the hell out of me’ and that they sprayed him with some kind of gas. He said he wanted to say he loved us in case he never got a chance to again. If the guard on the phone told the truth, he is held on the military base in Hadda street. Why isn’t our own government stopping this abuse of an American? We don’t see how he can have any fair trial in Yemen now.”

He has “very little food and had been “forced to drink water out of bottles that had been used to urinate in,” according to Reprieve attorney Cori Crider, who has been representing Mobley.

This is one of the first times since he disappeared in February that his lawyers and family have been able to learn details from him about how he is being treated. (more…)

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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