Biden news today: Jamal Khashoggi’s US lawyer sentenced to three years following detention in UAE

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Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East came to an end with yet more controversy after it emerged that an American lawyer who previously represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been detained in the UAE.

US citizen Asim Ghafoor was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding and was held on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering. Mr Ghafoor reportedly had no prior knowledge of any conviction.

UAE state media said on Saturday that the attorney had been sentenced to three years in prison.

On Saturday, Mr Biden met with UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and invited him to visit the US before the year is out.

He was one of multiple Middle Eastern leaders Mr Biden met in Saudi Arabia on Saturday before leaving aboard Air Force One.

New details also emerged about Friday’s controversial meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the man US intelligence found responsible for ordering the Khashoggi’s murder.

When Mr Biden confronted MBS about the killing – after a friendly fist-bump – he denied the accusation and fired back about the US’s own controversies.

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Biden fires back at reporters over controversial fist-bump with MBS

President Joe Biden fired back at reporters when he was questioned about his controversial fist-bump with the Saudi crown prince.

The US president landed back at the White House on Saturday night following his four-day trip to the Middle East.

On the White House lawn, he was asked by reporters if he regretted his fist-bump with the man who US intelligence concluded ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

“Why don’t you guys talk about something that matters? I’m happy to answer a question that matters,” Mr Biden responsed.

The president came under fire when he exchanged what appeared to be a friendly greeting with MBS ahead of their meeting in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

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Jamal Khashoggi’s American lawyer sentenced to three years in UAE prison

An American lawyer who represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been sentenced to three years in prison in the UAE after being detained at an airport amid President Joe Biden’s controversial trip to the Middle East.

Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen and Virginia-based civil rights attorney, was convicted of tax evasion and money laundering related to a tax evasion operation in the US, UAE state media WAM reported on Saturday.

The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering Court sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of three million dirhams ($816,748 USD), then deportation from the UAE, two days after he was arrested at Dubai airport.

State media said that his conviction came after US authorities reached out to their UAE counterparts for judicial assistance regarding their investigations of Mr Ghafoor for alleged tax evasion and making suspicious money transfers to the Middle Eastern country.

The US has not confirmed this version of events.The Independent has reached out to the US State Department to verify this account.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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Biden accuses Saudi officials of lying when they claimed they ‘didn’t hear’ him bring up Khashoggi with MBS

President Joe Biden has accused Saudi officials of lying after they claimed they “didn’t hear” him bring up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his meeting with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir had claimed in a phone call with a Fox News reporter on Saturday that he “did not hear” Mr Biden confront MBS on the matter.

When Mr Biden landed back at the White House on Saturday night, he was asked if the official was telling the truth.

“The Saudi foreign minister says he didn’t hear you accuse the crown prince of Khashoggi’s murder. Is he telling the truth?” asked a White House reporter.

Mr Biden firmly responded: “No.”

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UAE state media claims it detained US lawyer after working with American authorities

UAE state media has claimed that the detention and conviction of an American lawyer who represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi came after US officials reached out for help in investigating his activities.

WAM reported on Saturday that US authorities had asked the UAE for judicial assistance regarding their investigations of Asim Ghafoor for alleged tax evasion and making suspicious money transfers to the UAE.

The US has not confirmed this version of events.

The Independent has reached out to the US State Department to verify this account.

Mr Ghafoor, a US citizen and Virginia-based civil rights attorney, was convicted of two crimes of tax evasion and money laundering related to a tax evasion operation in the US, WAM reported.

The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering Court has now sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of three million dirhams ($US 816,748), with deportation from the UAE.

Mr Ghafoor was suddenly detained at Dubai airport on Thursday in the middle of President Joe Biden’t controversial trip to the Middle East.

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Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia was doomed from the beginning

“Trying to make peace in the Middle East is a task American presidents usually leave until their second term. That was the pattern set, with varying degrees of success, by presidents Nixon, Clinton and Obama.

“Only Jimmy Carter allowed hope to triumph over experience during his single term in office, with the historic Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.

“Although only in his first term, and on his first visit to the region, Joe Biden is expressly not there to follow in the footsteps of any of his peacemaking predecessors. He has been around for too long, and seen too many disappointments, to risk the investment needed to make progress. This trip has more to do with Russia and Ukraine than Israel and Palestine.”

Read the rest of The Independent’s editorial here:

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US lawyer who represented Jamal Khashoggi is sentenced to three years in prison in the UAE

An American lawyer who represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been sentenced to three years in prison in the UAE after being suddenly detained at an airport in the country during President Joe Biden’t trip to the Middle East.

UAE state media WAM reported on Saturday that US citizen Asim Ghafoor had been convicted of two crimes of tax evasion and money laundering related to a tax evasion operation in his country.

The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering Court sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of three million dirhams ($US 816,748), with deportation from the UAE.

The civil rights attorney based in Virginia was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding, according to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

The human rights group said Mr Ghafoor is now being held in a detention facility in Abu Dhabi on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering. Mr Ghafoor had no prior knowledge of any conviction, DAWN said in a statement on Friday.

The US State Department said on Saturday that it was aware of Mr Ghafoor’s detention in the country – at a time when the US president was meeting the UAE president to further relations between the two nations.

“We are aware of the arrest of US citizen Asim Ghafoor in the UAE. We have raised his detention at senior levels with Emirati authorities and requested additional information. We are watching his case closely and providing appropriate consular support; consular officers from the US Embassy visited him today,” a State Department spokesperson said.

“We have conveyed our expectation that Mr. Ghafoor’s rights to a fair and public hearing and to fair trial guarantees be fully respected and that he be treated humanely, as well as that U.S. rights to consular access be fully respected.”

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Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée slams Biden over fist-bump with MSB

Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée has slammed President Joe Biden over his fist-bump with the Saudi crown prince.

Hatice Cengiz spoke out about how she believed the murdered journalist would respond to seeing the friendly greeting between the two leaders.

“Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS’s next victims is on your hands,” she said.

Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 to get the documents he needed to marry Ms Cengiz. He never made it out alive.

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Biden poses for ‘family photo’ with Saudi Crown Prince MBS

President Joe Biden posed for a “family photo” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just hours after the pair exchanged harsh words over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The president stood shoulder to shoulder with the crown prince, known as MBS, along with other Middle East leaders on Saturday, before he boarded Air Force One and left the region.

In the photos, Mr Biden stood with his hands clasped in front of him with MBS to his right. At one point, the two leaders appeared to exchange words.

They were joined for the photo call by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa; Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi; Jordan’s King Abdullah II; Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani; Kuwait’s Crown Prince Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah; Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi; United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Asaad bin Tariq al-Said, a special representative for the Sultan of Oman.

The so-called “family photo” comes after Friday’s meeting between Mr Biden and MBS where the US president said he confronted the Saudi crown prince over his role in Khashoggi’s death.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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MBS fires back at Biden with America’s own controveries

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired back at Joe Biden with America’s own controversies when the US president confronted him over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it has been revealed.

A source familiar with Friday’s controversial meeting between the two leaders told CNN that the crown prince, known as MBS, responded by bringing up the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and incidents where US soldiers abused prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib detention centre.

The source said that MBS told Mr Biden that the two incidents reflected badly on the US.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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American lawyer who defended Khashoggi is detained in UAE

An American lawyer who defended murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been detained in the UAE, sparking further controversy around President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East.

Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen and civil rights attorney from Virginia, was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding, according to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

The human rights group said Mr Ghafoor is now being held in a detention facility in Abu Dhabi on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering.

Mr Ghafoor had no prior knowledge of any conviction, DAWN said in a statement on Friday.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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