Canadian government requests an official be present at trial for Salim Alaradi in UAE
'We were hoping the UAE would simply release Mr. Alaradi,' lawyer says
The Canadian government has requested an official be present at the trial for Canadian Salim Alaradi, held in the United Arab Emirate without being charged for more than 500 days.
The trial is set to begin Monday, Jan. 18, say family and Amnesty International.
Global Affairs Canada sent an email response to CBC News' questions on Alaradi's case Thursday. A spokesperson said the government is aware of Alaradi's case and is "engaged in efforts to ensure a prompt and just resolution."
"Canadian officials at very high levels have raised with United Arab Emirates authorities our concerns regarding Mr. Salim Alaradi's health, well-being and consular access," said Global Affairs spokesperson Diana Khaddaj.
Khaddaj said Global Affairs Canada "continues our advocacy on his behalf" and that "consular services" are being provided to Alaradi, though she did not provide additional details, citing privacy concerns.
Alaradi has been in custody for 17 months. His family is in Windsor, Ont. Last September, the family hired the Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ.
Champ told CBC News the trial will be heard in the State Security Chamber of the UAE Federal Supreme Court.
"That tells us it's going to be some kind of national security or terrorism charge," Champ said in a phone interview. "He will be informed of the charges and the case will start right away."
Cases heard in the State Security Chamber are not public. The accused, if found guilty, has no right of appeal and defence lawyers don't meet with the accused ahead of time.
"At least now there is some kind of process in place which hopefully will see him acquitted and released," Champ said. "We were hoping the UAE would simply release Mr. Alaradi."
The UAE Consul General based in Ottawa told CBC News it could not comment on the matter.
Alaradi was taken from a hotel room in August 2014 and been in custody ever since, Champ said.
According to Champ, the businessman manufactures appliances in the UAE and sells them in the Middle East and Africa.