The Libyan-born Canadian who has been held by United Arab Emirate authorities for more than 500 days has been charged.
Salim Alaradi was charged Monday with two counts of supporting terrorist organizations after being held without charges since Aug. 28, 2014.
Alaradi was first taken into UAE custody while the businessman was on vacation in Dubai with his wife Aliya and their five children, Marwa, Nur, Mohammed, and two younger siblings. He was called to the reception desk of the hotel before being detained by authorities.
Information about Alaradi’s whereabouts were not released by UAE authorities for several months. It was only through efforts by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Marwa was able to confirm her father’s detainment, known as “enforced disappearance and arbitrary under international law.”
Since then, Marwa and her family has worked on a campaign to see Alaradi released. They have met with Canadian officials, their MP Brian Masse (NDP-Windsor West) and spoken to the United Nations.
Marwa said although she was not in the court room, hearing the charges against her father has been difficult for her family.
“I have mixed feelings,” said Marwa. “I am really concerned. The world knows my father has done nothing wrong, but in UAE courts, charges of terrorism have very serious punishments, including the death penalty.”
“My mother is emotionally distraught. My extended family is very worried. My uncles are helping me stay strong. With all this we are trying to keep this confusing and complex situation away from my younger siblings.”
Ottawa human rights lawyer Paul Champ said the two organizations Alaradi allegedly supported were Libya Dawn and the February 17 Brigade, both of which have worked with countries including the U.S., such as the latter during the 2012 Benghazi attack.
“These groups are not viewed as terrorist organizations by any other country in the world or the U.S.,” said Champ, who was hired by the family in September 2015. “We don’t know where the UAE is coming from on these kinds of allegations.”
Champ said Alaradi has not been to Libya in 25 years.
Alaradi plead not guilty to all charges. If he is found guilty during the trial, he could face anything from a few years to life in prison or even the death penalty.
In an interview from Abu Dhabi, Champ said he was not allowed in the arraignment of Alaradi but the Canadian ambassador to the UAE was in the court room and informed him of the charges afterwards.
Marwa said if people want to help, they should contact the Canadian government to “continue its intervention to bring my father home.”
Champ added since September Canadian authorities have been adding more pressure on the UAE regarding the case and since October, they have been able to see him “almost weekly.”
The trial is set to begin Feb. 15 where Champ said they will make their arguments based on the evidence presented to them. However, both he and Alaradi’s local lawyer have yet to see the file about the case. That is expected to be released by the end of this week.