US Citizen and former Air Force captain, Sherif Osman, was detained by UAE police for speaking out against the Egyptian government on YouTube from his home in America, where he thought he was protected by his constitutional right to free speech.
Osman, 46, runs a small business in Westfield, Massachusetts, after graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2019. As a side passion, he has amassed a YouTube following of 35.2k subscribers for his commentary on the Egyptian political situation.
Unbeknownst to Osman, his public criticism of Egyptian president Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi drew the attention of Egypt and the UAE, after he recently backed calls for a peaceful protest against el-Sisi during the November 11th UN climate summit (COP27) meeting in Egypt.
On a November 6 trip to Dubai to introduce his new fiancée to his family, plainclothes police approached him on the street, grabbed him, and rushed him into custody only a day after Egyptian authorities prevented his mother from leaving the country without explanation. Osman faces extradition to Egypt, where Radha Stirling, Founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai, warns they will imprison, torture, and eventually slaughter him for his slander of the government.
"Though he is being treated well now, Sherif’s life is in danger in Dubai detention, and if the US allows his extradition, we fear that his fate will be sealed.”Radha Stirling
"There are currently some 60,000 political prisoners held in Egypt, with hundreds dying in custody every year,” explained Stirling. “Inmates report being kept in filthy, overcrowded cells, being denied life-saving medications, and being subject to torture repeatedly… Even without violent abuse by the police, the conditions of the [Egyptian] jails are themselves life-threatening, which is not even mentioning the inhumane conditions and systematic torture that exists in UAE prisons. Though he is being treated well now, Sherif’s life is in danger in Dubai detention, and if the US allows his extradition, we fear that his fate will be sealed.”
“The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, has bankrolled the el-Sisi government since the coup in 2013,” she added. “And Egypt and the Emirates have had a symbiotic relationship politically and economically ever since. Sherif’s extradition is certain unless the US takes a stand … This is almost a replay of the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, except that Sherif is still alive, and the US has a chance to intervene before it is too late.”
Unlike Khashoggi, Osman is not only an American citizen but also a veteran. Stirling pledged that her organization, Detained in Dubai, will reach out to UAE’s American embassy and appeal to Osman’s Congressional representatives to ensure they each do their part in bringing Osman home.
No legal basis for Sherif's arrest or extradition
“There is no legal basis for his detention, and no grounds for his extradition; the Egyptian government does not get to punish Americans just because they don’t like what we say.”
Interpol’s rules state that Red Notices cannot be politically-motivated and that countries do not have the right to extradite political dissidents. “Egypt and UAE are once again abusing the Interpol system to expand their jurisdictions, creating a kind of authoritarian axis. The current president of Interpol, Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, is himself a former high-ranking Emirati official accused of torture; so, immediate and forceful intervention by the United States government is the only hope Sherif has to regain his freedom.”
“There is no legal basis for his detention, and no grounds for his extradition; the Egyptian government does not get to punish Americans just because they don’t like what we say.”Radha Stirling
“It’s unbelievably stressful,” Sherif’s wife Saija lamented. Her husband’s situation has turned her dream vacation into a nightmare.
"It’s not right that he can be arrested despite having committed no crime."Saija Osman
“If he gets sent to Egypt, he will never be seen alive again,” Saija continued. “We are begging for the US government to step in diplomatically. It’s not right that he can be arrested despite having committed no crime. Egypt should not be able to have people detained who criticize the country from outside of their borders. Imagine the kind of slippery slope that would create… No journalist or activist would be safe.”