American feared dead after Saudi bombs hit Yemeni prison – family begs Obama for help

May 27, 2015

Image of Sharif Mobley with daughter

Urgent fears have been sounded for the life of an American father in a Yemeni prison today, after a Saudi strike reportedly killed dozens of people in the military compound where he is held.

Sharif Mobley, a father of three from New Jersey, has been held in a basement prison in Sana’a for several months. US and Yemeni officials have repeatedly refused to disclose his location to his family in the US, or his legal team at human rights organization Reprieve; however, in a dramatic recent phone call, Sharif told his lawyers that “I’m at the same prison that the American Embassy visited me at, that time they visited me I told them – it was in December, I told them how bad everything was but they didn’t do anything to get me out of here.” In another call to his family and lawyers days ago, Sharif can be heard screaming “they’re trying to kill me in this prison… they’re trying to kill me right now.”

The US has made no contact with Sharif since December 2014, and has ignored a prior communication on his safety made by Reprieve lawyers on March 24th. On February 11th, the U.S. closed its embassy in Yemen and evacuated all staff. Sharif’s lawyers have written to the US State Department alerting them to Sharif’s calls, and asking for immediate action to save Sharif’s life – including sharing his location coordinates with the Saudi government, which is leading the bombing campaign in Yemen. The State Department has so far failed to give a substantive response.

Sharif’s lawyers at Reprieve have urgently requested that the US confirm whether he is alive after today’s attacks.

Commenting, Cori Crider, Sharif’s lawyer at Reprieve, said:

“We have repeatedly warned the US that the life of an American is in grave danger – yet they haven’t seen fit even to tell the Saudis to spare him from bombs. Now it seems that the worst has happened. Sharif’s family are desperately worried, and can’t understand their government’s inaction. Instead of more stonewalling, the US must urgently confirm whether Sharif is still alive, and explain what steps it is taking to protect its citizen.”


Notes to editors

1. For more information, please contact Reprieve’s press office (UK) on +44 (0) 207 553 8140 or (US) +1 (917) 855-8064

2. Background on Sharif’s case can be found at the Reprieve website.