Canadian Salim Alaradi has terrorism charges dropped in U.A.E.
'It was quite a surprise for everyone involved,' lawyer says
Terrorism charges laid against Libyan-Canadian Salim Alaradi, detained for nearly two years in the United Arab Emirates, have been dropped, his lawyer Paul Champ told CBC Windsor Morning on Monday.
After spending 17 months in a U.A.E. prison, the Windsor businessman was charged with several terrorism-related charges in January.
Alaradi had been charged with funding and co-operating with terrorist organizations, according to Champ, an Ottawa human rights lawyer hired by Alaradi's family, which calls Windsor, Ont., home.
He was taken from a hotel room in August 2014 and has been in custody ever since. According to Champ, the businessman manufactures appliances in the U.A.E. and sells them in the Middle East and Africa.
Alaradi had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Champ called Monday's news "quite a dramatic turn."
"It was quite a surprise for everyone involved," Champ said.
'Far less serious charge' laid
The judge on Monday did lay a new charge of collecting donations without permission of the appropriate ministry and sending them to a foreign country.
Champ called it "a far less serious charge" that falls under the U.A.E. penal code.
Alaradi's daughter, Marwa Alaradi, told CBC News the new charge is fabricated as well.
"My dad's not a terrorist. He's a businessman. He has nothing to do with terrorist organizations," she said. "I feel happy they've confirmed what I've been saying all this time, but feel bad because my father's not getting a fair trial."
Alaradi was among 10 Libyan businessmen and two dual American nationals detained and similarly charged in the U.A.E. in August 2014. Two other Libyans were acquitted in court last week.
The Supreme Federal Court in Abu Dhabi acquitted Libyans Adel Rajab Beleid Nassif and Muaz Mohammed Habib Al Hashemi of charges of joining in or supporting militant or terrorists groups in Libya, including Libyan Dawn and Ansar Al Sharia, the state-run WAM news agency reported.
"With the men last week acquitted, it seemed the state security prosecutors were under a lot of pressure on what to do. Their case is falling in around them," Champ said.
UN human rights experts last month demanded that the U.A.E. immediately release Alaradi and other Libyans, including U.S. dual nationals Kamal Ahmed al-Darrat and Mohamed Kamal al-Darrat, who were allegedly subjected to waterboarding, electric shocks and lockups in a freezer over the last year and a half.
Alaradi, who remains in custody, is due back in court April 11 to face the new charge.
With files from CBC Windsor Morning and The Canadian Press