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California tech guy tortured into sending crypto to Dubai cops with threats to rape his wife.

California tech entrepreneur tortured into sending crypto to corrupt Dubai cops with threats to rape his wife.

An American cryptocurrency entrepreneur was tortured into emptying his crypto wallet amidst brutal beatings by Dubai’s CID that included threats to rape both he and his wife. He now faces permanent blindness after being deprived of medication by Dubai authorities. Radha Stirling from organisation Detained in Dubai, says “this is all too familiar a situation. We are preparing an urgent report to lodge to Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and the UAE’s Ambassador to the US as well as a criminal complaint with the blockchain tracing details. Corruption within law enforcement must be taken seriously by the ruler if people are to feel at all safe in the Emirates”.

Californian native, Edel Hsieh, accepted a role as technical advisor to crypto startup, Fomodex, and moved to Dubai in 2022. His new colleague was a then successful crypto developer along with his co-partner.

Edel began work, producing whitepapers and technical & operations advice for the backend of Fomodex while the others provided the community. “He was certainly drawn in”, said Ms Stirling, “Edel officially co-invested and was expecting 20% of net profits. He was hoping to benefit as an early investor but some red flags were raised and he held concern over the company operations”. The others were in control of the company wallet and were using public funds to invest in other platforms without consultation.  Edel didn't want to be a part of it anymore and asked for the return of his investment for which he retained security cheques. “Security cheques are often exchanged for investments in Dubai”, explains Stirling. “If one party doesn’t adhere to the agreement or abscond with the funds, the cheques can be presented. Failing to honour a cheque can result in a custodial sentence”.

Edel was advised by his lawyer to present the cheques which bounced so Edel opened a case against Sam for his investment. “What Edel probably didn’t know, is that fraudsters who know the system in Dubai often open criminal cases against financial claimants as a sort of insurance policy. They try to have them jailed under false allegations so the victim can not proceed with their genuine case. They often insist on the victim dropping their financial cases in return for being freed from jail”, says Stirling, who has helped more than 20,000 people over her 16 years running the organisation.

Still hoping for the voluntary return of his funds, Edel and his friends attended a meeting that turned into a party at one of the partner's residences at Fountain Views in Downtown Dubai. He asked his former partner to arrange for his investment reimbursement.  His response was to suggest Edel drop the cheque case then they could continue to work together. The next day, on the 6th of March 2024, Edel was arrested and taken into custody by Dubai’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

His worried wife received a message to urgently call him and when she did, she was asked to send approximately $100,000 to a crypto wallet address. Hearing that he was clearly distressed, she quickly sent the money. She knew something was wrong but he couldn’t talk. She could not have imagined that he was being extorted by Emirati officials. He was later able to reveal that he had been severely beaten and tortured. He told his wife how CID took pictures of her from Edel’s phone then a high ranking Emirati official in traditional kandura forced him to ask her to send money, telling him that he and his wife would both be raped if he did not cooperate. A metal prong was used to violently jab his ribs and he was forced to sign some sort of confession in Arabic. “While shocking, cases of police beatings, torture and forced confessions do happen in Dubai prisons. We have a case before the United Nations right now of a grandfather having been beaten so badly, he suffered multiple fractures. To add financial extortion to the list, if left unaddressed, will only serve as an incentive to corrupt officials to partake in torture in the future. The government of Dubai needs to direct authorities that this is absolutely not acceptable. They respect Sheikh Mohammed and if he tells them to stop, they will obey him which begs the question of complicity. Why has this order not been made?”

“Edel’s wife Neda is distressed”, reports Ms Stirling. “She is afraid to even try to visit her husband in Dubai in case they detain and rape her.”

Neda told Stirling “He has been denied access to a lawyer and to medication. He’s been wearing the same clothes for two months and doesn’t have a bed to sleep on. During the floods, he couldn’t even sleep on the concrete floor. He’s suffered multiple infections and has been told if he doesn’t see a specialist, he may lose his eyesight. Edel suffers severe allergies that make it difficult to breathe but has been refused nasal spray that opens his airways.”

Although the allegations against him are unclear, it appears he has been accused of threatening one of his former partners in regards to returning the investment. “The tactic of reporting someone like Edel is often used by individuals who fear cases will be opened against them. If they get in first, it immunises them against future complaints from the victim. The first person to make the report usually prevails”, adds Stirling.

“We are briefing the US State Department, the UAE’s Ambassador to the US, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and Senator Josh Newman. The mistreatment of a US citizen in the penal system of one of our closest allies, along with the serious allegations of corruption and torture should be addressed diplomatically by the states involved. Edel has done nothing wrong but has become a target of extortion and was terribly abused by those entrusted with his care during an investigation. All evidence of his innocence is available on his electronic devices held by Dubai police and he is desperate to be exonerated and reunited with his family”.


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