Political commentator Sherif Osman facing extradition from UAE to Egypt after calling for protests during COP27

Political commentator Sherif Osman facing extradition from UAE to Egypt after calling for protests during COP27

Sherif Osman is a U.S.-Egyptian political commentator who was arrested in Dubai, on November 6, 2022, during a family visit to the United Arab Emirates. Though he was initially informed that his arrest was based on a red notice issued by INTERPOL at Egypt’s request, it was later clarified that the warrant was circulated through the Arab Interior Ministers Council, an institution of the Arab League. His arrest is likely due to a video he had posted on his YouTube channel in which he called for a peaceful protest during the visit of U.S. President to Egypt to attend COP27. He was facing deportation to Egypt where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be subjected to torture.

Sherif Osman is a former Egyptian army officer who has been an outspoken critic of the Egyptian regime, including on his YouTube channel.

On October 31, 2022, Osman posted a video on his YouTube channel calling for peaceful protests on November 11, during the visit of U.S. President Joe Biden to Egypt during COP27, commonly referred to as the “11/11 protest”.

On November 4, 2022, Osman arrived in Dubai for a family visit. Two days later, on November 6, he was outside a restaurant when two men dressed in civilian clothes and driving a black car approached him and asked him to follow them. After they abducted him, his family enquired with various authorities. Six hours later, they were informed that he was detained at the Police Headquarters in Dubai. On November 8, he was transferred to Dubai Central Prison, where he remains detained to date.

On November 8, he was brought before the Public Prosecutor, who informed him that he was arrested on the basis of a red notice issued by INTERPOL at Egypt’s request. The Prosecutor vaguely referred to Osman’s videos dating back to 2019. However, it was later clarified that the warrant was circulated through the Arab Interior Ministers Council, an institution of the Arab League. The Public Prosecution gave Egypt 30 days to submit a comprehensive extradition request. On November 30, Osman’s detention was extended for another 30 days.

According to the U.S. consulate, he is held due to speaking negatively against [Egyptian] government institutions. However, as he had already been travelling to Dubai in 2020 and never faced arrest, there is reason to believe that the timing of his arrest is in reprisal for posting his video about COP27.

On November 21, 2022, MENA Rights Group requested the intervention of the Special Rapporteur against torture, asking her to intervene urgently with the Emirati authorities to urge them not to extradite Osman to Egypt and to release him immediately. An extradition would constitute a violation of the principle of non-refoulement enshrined under article 3 of the Convention against Torture, to which the UAE is a party.

Since his arrest, Osman was denied the right to challenge the legality of his detention and faced numerous impediments to his right to access a lawyer, who could not visit him in prison.

On December 22, 2022, he was released without bail pending the completion of the proceedings. On December 27, 2022, he was allowed to leave the UAE and went back to the United States. Osman was not brought before a judicial authority again and not provided with any official documents whatsoever. It remains unclear whether the UAE formally rejected Egypt’s extradition request.

Timeline

December 27, 2022: Osman is allowed to leave the UAE and goes back to the United States.
December 22, 2022: Osman is released pending the conclusion of his case.
November 21, 2022: MENA Rights Group requests the urgent intervention of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.
November 6, 2022: Osman is arrested in Dubai.
October 31, 2022: Osman posts a video on his YouTube channel calling for protests during COP27.

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