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"Egyptian prisons are infamous for their inhumane treatment of prisoners, and documented instances of torture and abuse are disturbingly common. At a time when Egypt is actively seeking, and very badly needs, support for its tourism sector, it may seem shocking that a Western visitor could be subjected to such outrageous actions by the police; however, foreign nationals must bear in mind that Egypt has largely become a police state over the past 7 years, with a dramatic spike in rates of incarceration, mass trials, deaths in custody, and an erosion of judicial independence. Civil rights and basic freedoms have been increasingly curtailed and democratic norms simply do not apply in the country. " Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai

Radha Stirling has been the leading voice calling out Interpol abuse by countries like the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey; and has successfully lobbied for the removal of wrongful Red Notice listings for nearly 15 years. Her organisation, IPEX (Interpol and Extradition Reform), also provides Interpol prevention services for clients who may be at risk of being subjected to an abusive listing. “A great deal of work still needs to be done, not only to address Interpol’s fairness, efficiency, and lack of transparency, but also with the international protocols governing extradition,” She explained, “Authoritarian countries, whether through manipulation of Interpol, or through bilateral relations, have created a de facto transnational jurisdiction that circumvents accepted standards of due process which puts anyone at risk who travels outside established democratic countries."

Perhaps nothing highlights this deterioration in influence better than the plight of American citizen Sherif Osman. The Egyptian-born resident of Massachusetts was arrested in Dubai last month upon the request of Egypt because he had posted commentary on social media critical of the government of strongman Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi. It didn’t matter that Osman’s comments were made from his home in the United States, published on American-owned platforms, through exclusively American-based servers, and in accordance with his constitutional right to free speech; Egypt did not approve, and the UAE therefore snatched him off the street while on vacation in Dubai.

In a media statement, Stirling reveals how widely abuse of this kind has become, “The UAE, along with China, Russia, Venezuela, Egypt and Turkey, have been widely criticised for their abuse of Interpol’s database as a tool to punish and lock up dissenting voices, journalists, credit card debtors and political rivals but it is widely used by the private sector and greedy Sheikh’s a tool of extortion. "

While she has reached out to Osman’s representatives in congress and the senate, none have issued any public statements about the case or raised the issue with the State Department, Stirling says. “We have only heard vague words of concern privately, and the standard template response from the embassy that they are ‘monitoring’ the case; but this is grossly inadequate. Both Egypt and the UAE are considered staunch US allies; both enjoy massive investment and trade deals with the US, yet instead of seeing American diplomats and officials meeting with Egyptian and Emirati counterparts to secure Sherif Osman’s release, we see the UAE ambassador meeting with Egypt’s International Cooperation minister to strengthen bilateral relations. It is as if the US is being locked out of the room, if not passively leaving it voluntarily.”

Stirling points out that the UAE has accrued considerable power in Washington, and that the Emirates has been an enthusiastic sponsor of the El-Sisi government since the coup that brought the former army officer to power in 2013. “The Emirates is flooding Capitol Hill with cash, spending over $64 million on lobbyists, contributing nearly $2 million to politicians on both sides of the aisle. They have pumped billions of dollars into Egypt since the coup, and just recently agreed to another round of aid and investment with the explicit purpose of protecting the regime from potential unrest over food shortages. "

"The UAE is basically a co-owner of the Egyptian government, and the US government has been unabashedly bribed into silence; America has allowed itself to become an impotent spectator in the Middle East, even when the life and freedom of a US citizen is at stake.”

Radha Stirling, founder of Due Process International, InterpolRedNotice,

IPEX (Interpol and Extradition Reform) and CEO of Detained in Dubai

In alignment with our unwavering commitment to the responsible and ethical use of Interpol's tools, we actively lead campaigns advocating for the deletion of abusive Red Notices. Additionally, we proactively propose comprehensive solutions for individuals adversely affected by these unjust practices. These diligent efforts have yielded considerable success, resulting in the removal of abusive Red Notices and providing much-needed relief to individuals unfairly targeted by the misuse of Interpol's mechanisms.

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