American dad missing in Yemen due in court on death penalty case

December 23, 2016

Image of Sharif Mobley with daughter

A court in Yemen will hear calls on Tuesday (27th) for a death sentence against an American father-of-three, who disappeared inside the country’s prison system over a year ago.

US citizen Sharif Mobley, 32, from New Jersey, was sentenced to ten years in prison in Yemen in December 2015 over a shooting. His lawyer has not had any access to him since that trial, and his family have unsuccessfully requested ‘signs of life’ from the Yemeni authorities.

Despite serious concerns about his safety, Mobley’s sentence has been appealed and a harsher punishment demanded.

The first in a series of appeal hearings is set for Tuesday. Should he lose, Mobley could face the death penalty. International human rights group Reprieve is helping Mobley’s lawyer to lodge a cross-appeal.

The case dates back to 2010, when Mobley was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen from outside his house in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, shot in the leg and held incommunicado for months.

Logs released under a US Freedom of Information request revealed that two US agents interrogated Mobley while he was in secret detention.

Since mid-2010, he has faced charges relating to the death of a Yemeni police officer in the course of an alleged escape attempt from hospital, where Mobley was being detained.

Following a trial in which he was denied access to his lawyer and eventual conviction in 2015, Mobley again disappeared into Yemen’s prison system.

Commenting, Katie Taylor, Deputy Director of Reprieve’s Abuses in Counter-terrorism Team, said:

“Since Sharif Mobley’s arrest, Yemeni authorities have subjected him to a litany of abuses. He was separated from the prison population and disappeared, denied legal access, and was frequently not brought to hearings in his case despite judge’s orders. The Yemeni authorities must end these abuses and ensure that his trial is fair. The US government has not done enough to protect its citizen and must do more.”


Notes to editors:

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] / +1 917 855 8064.

2. Sharif Mobley has not been heard from since 16 December 2015.

3. More information about Sharif Mobley is available on the Reprieve website here