“They’re trying to kill me right now”: Desperate call from American father imprisoned in Yemen

May 14, 2015

Image of Sharif Mobley with daughter

An American father of three imprisoned in Yemen has made a desperate phone call to his sister and Reprieve US lawyers, in which he can be heard screaming “they’re trying to kill me in this prison…they’re trying to kill me right now.”

Sharif Mobley, a father of three from New Jersey, is being held in a basement prison in Sana’a from where he was able to make the call. Sharif’s lawyers have written to the US State Department alerting them to this call and asking for immediate action to save Sharif’s life. The State Department has so far failed to respond or to acknowledge receipt.

Earlier this year, a Yemeni security source told NBC news that “Sharif Mobley had been transferred in co-ordination with the U.S. and that American officials have participated in his interrogation.”

Throughout the past year, U.S. and Yemeni officials have repeatedly refused to disclose Sharif’s location to his legal team or family. However, Sharif told his lawyers on yesterday’s call 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.”

The U.S. has made no contact with Sharif since December 2014, and has ignored a prior communication on Sharif’s safety made by Reprieve lawyers on March 24th. On February 11th the U.S. closed its embassy in Yemen and evacuated all staff.

Until March 30th, when he was able to make a phone call, Sharif had not been seen or heard from by his legal team in more than a year. He was seen by representatives from Reprieve on 27 February 2014. When they returned three weeks later, Reprieve US staff were told that Mr Mobley had been transferred to another, secret location. All attempts by Mr Mobley’s lawyers to access him until March 30th when he was able to make a phone call. location.

Reprieve US attorney Alka Pradhan said: “For months, the US has ignored the desperate pleas of this young American, who we can now hear being savagely beaten by Yemeni guards. Sharif’s elderly mother in New Jersey is terrified that her son has been beaten to death, and is baffled by her government’s silence. If a US passport means anything, it is that our government will not callously abandon us to be murdered abroad. The US must take urgent action to save Sharif’s life, before it is too late.”


Notes to Editors

1. For more information about Sharif Mobley’s case go to http://www.reprieve.org.uk/case-study/sharif-mobley/ or contact Katherine O’Shea on katherine.oshea@reprieve.org or +1 917 855 8064.

2. The full audio recording is here.

3. Reprieve US’s multiple letters to the US Department of State on Sharif’s case are available on request.