The U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates told U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar the case of Shezanne Cassim, a former Minnesota resident imprisoned in Abu Dhabi, is his “highest priority.”
Cassim and several friends were imprisoned after filming a mock documentary about teen life in Dubai and uploading it to YouTube.
A U.S. citizen, Cassim has lived and worked in Dubai since he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2006. He was arrested in April and charged with violating a cybercrimes law. After spending two months in jail in Dubai, he was transferred to a maximum security prison.
Ambassador Michael Corbin “personally pledged to me that he would make it the highest priority,” Klobuchar said Tuesday. The two talked by phone late Monday night.
The U.S. State Department has visited Cassim regularly and attended all his court hearings.
Family members on Tuesday said Cassim was initially denied legal counsel and forced to sign a document in Arabic that he could not read while jailed in Dubai.
Cassim’s next court date is Dec. 16. The judge in his case is waiting for an Arabic translation of the video, “Ultimate Combat School: The Deadly Satwa G’s,” which began with a disclaimer stating that it was fictional.
Klobuchar also plans to reopen discussions with Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emriates' ambassador to the United States, about Cassim's case, she said.