Judge orders Yemeni Attorney General to produce disappeared US citizen

June 25, 2014

A judge in Yemen today issued an official court order demanding that the government produce a US citizen who has been disappeared for more than 120 days, after the Yemeni authorities once again failed to produce him at a trial hearing.

At a hearing in the case of Sharif Mobley, the judge ordered Yemeni Attorney General Ali Alwash to produce him at the next hearing – scheduled for 20 August – and to explain his disappearance. A representative from the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that Mr Mobley’s disappearance was political, saying: “His disappearance has nothing to do with the charges he is facing.” Mr Mobley’s lawyers have expressed concern that the failure to produce him is at the behest of the US government in order to hide details of their involvement in his case.

Mr Mobley was first kidnapped in January 2010 by unidentified gunmen from outside his house in Sana’a, shot in the leg and held incommunicado for several months. While in secret detention he was interrogated by two US agents, threatened with further abuse (including rape, and the rape of his wife) and beaten so badly he had to be re-hospitalized. Mr Mobley is currently facing murder charges relating to the death of a Yemeni police officer in the course of an alleged escape attempt.

Mr Mobley was last seen on February 27th but since then the Yemeni government has failed to produce him at three trial hearings or tell his lawyers or family where he is. His lawyers have called for all charges against Mr Mobley to be dismissed on the basis of the repeated ‘outrageous state conduct’ by the US and Yemeni authorities throughout his case.

The judge also expressed dismay that the media had been removed from the hearing by a court administrator, after he had explicitly said the hearing should be open to members of the press.

Mr. Mobley’s lawyer Khalid Al-Anasi said during the hearing: “The Attorney General’s office failed to respond to the request the court made during the previous hearing and didn’t produce our client. The central prison told us that he is not in their possession, which means that they are trying to prevent us from meeting our client. We call for the investigation of the disappearance of our client, not just on this occasion but also when he was first detained by the authorities. This all underlines the political nature of his detention and we ask that all charges be dropped.”

Mr. Mobley’s attorney, Cori Crider from Reprieve, said: “Since 2010 when the US and Yemeni authorities first kidnapped Sharif off the street, tortured and shot him, he has repeatedly been kept beyond the reach of the law. The Yemeni authorities continue their scandalous mistreatment of him through this second enforced disappearance and attempting to hold his trial without him and in secret. In these circumstances, justice cannot be served. He must be produced to his lawyers and the charges against him must be dropped.”


Notes to editors

1. For more information, please contact Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s US press office: clemency.wells@reprieve.org.uk / 001 929 258 2754