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Continued: Comedians rally behind 'U' grad detained in Abu Dhabi

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 22, 2013 - 10:08 PM

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has been critical of the U.S. response to the jailing of Cassim, a Sri Lankan-born U.S. citizen.

Secretary of State John Kerry did not publicly discuss Cassim’s case during a visit to the Emirates in November.

“When it comes to certain countries, UAE is one of them, … they lose their voice on this kind of issue,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division.

“When it comes to close allies … there’s just no appetite whatsoever for speaking out.”

The Cassim family immigrated to Dubai in the 1970s. Shezanne Cassim, 29, was born during a year the ­family spent back in their native Sri Lanka. He and his siblings were educated in British ­private schools in Dubai until 2000, when the family moved to Woodbury and became U.S. citizens.

Cassim graduated from Woodbury High School, then attended the University of Minnesota. He graduated from the U in 2006 and returned to Dubai to work as a business consultant. He started a job with Pricewaterhouse­Coopers in April, three weeks before police in Dubai jailed him. According to his family, ­Cassim was interrogated and forced by authorities to sign a document in Arabic that he did not ­understand.

The presiding judge in the case did not request an Arabic translation of Cassim’s video until late November.

The prosecution “certainly does seem to be really overstepping the boundaries of the law,” said Duffy, the communications professor and former Emirates resident.

Cassim’s brother, Shervon Cassim of Durham, N.C., said he is hopeful that a resolution will come Monday, “But we’re afraid that it’s just going to be postponed again.”


Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @C_C_Mitchell

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