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UAE agent pleads guilty over US election meddling

Calls for serious re-evaluation of our ties to what is clearly a despotic and dangerous country

The government of the UAE has a problem following the rules. It is almost as if they object to the very concept of the rule of law. Within the country, the legal system is notoriously arbitrary; people can be arrested when they have committed no crime and people who flout the rules can go unpunished. Almost everyone currently serving time in UAE prisons were not convicted on the basis of evidence, but through forced confessions and charade trials. The one unofficial, but always enforced law in the UAE is the law of influence, or “wasta”. If someone has wasta they can both evade prosecution for themselves and ensure prosecution of others. As the Emirates pursues greater reach on the world stage, they seem to be approaching global influence in this same lawless manner.

George Nader is a case in point. When Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, wanted to increase his country’s wasta in Washington in 2016, he did not follow the rules. While it is illegal for a candidate or politician in the US to accept donations from a foreign individual or entity, there are still ways to do it under the law. The UAE could, for instance, establish a Social Welfare organisation in the United States, and that organisation could then donate to a political campaign or Super PAC; as long as the organisation was above-board, genuinely involved in social welfare projects, and spent at least half of its operating budget on non-political work. But that’s not what MBZ did.

Instead, the de facto ruler of the UAE just gave George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and an adviser to MBZ, $5 million dollars to give to Hillary Clinton, and another $1 million to give to the campaign of Donald Trump. They deliberately concealed the source and intention behind this money by making it appear to be a business transaction between MBZ and Nader’s UAE-based company, but the Mueller investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election uncovered the true nature of the contributions.

Mohammed bin Zayed was attempting to buy influence the Emirati way.

Nader, who is already serving a sentence in the US for paedophilic sex crimes, has pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by funnelling the millions in donations to Clinton’s campaign and concealing the funds’ foreign origin.

Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International commented, “Nader is one of at least three confirmed paid agents of the UAE who sought to pay for access, to influence, and to gather intelligence about American politicians and candidates, including the President of the United States. The UAE’s illegal efforts to interfere with the 2016 election are not speculation; George Nader, Rashid Al-Malik, and Thomas Barrack have all been charged, and Nader has already entered a guilty plea.

“This is a close US ally actively undermining the electoral process, disregarding FEC regulations, and trying to influence American policy towards the UAE,” Stirling said, “They got caught this time, but we have seen the Emirates operating in this illicit manner all around the world – from accusations of buying influence in India to allegedly bribing judges in Georgia; from blackmailing and extorting business people to hacking and spying on journalists, activists, and political opponents. The UAE’s rulers feel and function as if they are above the law wherever they are, and that they have a license to exert influence by every means money can buy, regardless of legality. It is becoming increasingly necessary for Western nations to assess to what extent our relations with the UAE are genuinely beneficial to our citizens, and to what extent we are harmed by allowing the Emirates to continue behaving in such a hostile and belligerent way while enjoying ally status. They do not respect the legal rights of Westerners in their country, and they do not abide by their legal responsibilities in ours. For all the concerns over alleged Russian collusion in 2016, the only proven culprit so far has been the UAE, and this should merit not only a comprehensive investigation into Emirati political influence, but a serious re-evaluation of our ties to what is clearly a despotic and dangerous country.”


Radha Stirling is a leading human rights advocate, crisis manager and policy consultant, focusing on the UAE and the wider Middle East. She is the founder and CEO of British based organisation Detained in Dubai (which have helped almost twenty thousand victims of injustice over the past 13+ years), Due Process International and IPEX (Interpol and Extradition) Reform. Stirling also hosts the Gulf in Justice Podcast.

In 2010, Ms Stirling expanded her work beyond the UAE, dealing with both civil and criminal cases internationally. She has provided expert witness testimony in several high profile extradition and arbitration cases, while lobbying for Interpol reform.

Given her breadth of experience in financial disputes, Ms Stirling also provides expert risk assessment for investors and advice on business strategies in the Gulf. She has actively negotiated on behalf of corporate clients and investors, assisted in recovering stolen assets, and intervened to secure their freedom from unlawful detention.

Ms Stirling frequently appears in international media to discuss human rights and legal issues in the Middle East and abroad. She recently addressed the United Nations and worked closely with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Ms Stirling has provided policy advice to both the Australian, the US, Canadian and British governments, and is a frequently invited speaker on foreign policy issues related to the Gulf states and broader region.

Her high-profile media campaigns and legal work have influenced the release of countless high profile prisoners in the UAE, notably David Oliver, Richard Lau, Ellie Holman, Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee, Safi Qurashi, Scott Richards, Conrad Clitheroe, Gary Cooper, Farzan Athari, Billy Barclay, Jamie Harron, André Gauthier in the Gold AE fraud, Laleh Shahravesh, Derrin Crawford, Andy Neal, Peter Clark, Sheikha Zeynab, and more. Stirling acts in a number of cross jurisdictional commercial litigations including Oussama El Omari, Karam Al Sadeq, Jihad Quzmar, Dr Mohammed Haddad, Dr Khater Massaad, and Najib Khoury.

Ms Stirling publishes regular articles and reports, often covering human rights issues, political prisoners, Middle Eastern finance and debt laws, social media laws, cybercrime laws and Interpol red notice abuse. Stirling’s articles and op-eds have been published in major news outlets, including The Times of Israel, Haaratz, the Independent and Inside Arabia.

Radha has worked extensively at parliament level and closely with Senators and MP’s. Her work at Australian Parliament ensured provisions to safeguard citizens against human rights violations were included in their extradition treaty with the UAE. Stirling hosts MP’s on her Gulf in Justice Podcast, and works closely with the US State Department, Senators, Congressional representatives and law enforcement personnel.

Stirling acted for HRH Sheikha Latifa Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Hervé Jaubert which led to an international media campaign and a United Nations investigation into her disappearance from a US yacht in international waters. Stirling addressed the United Nations and continues to make submissions on behalf of aggrieved clients.

Stirling delivered a speech at a Frontiers of Freedom conference, focussing largely on the increased influence of Saudi Arabia and the UAE into American politics and media, questioning whether these US “allies” are acting in the best interests of the States. The OffshoreAlert conference hosted Stirling as a speaker who presented the inherent risks of investing in the UAE, to an audience of high profile lawyers, investors and financial advisors. An Interpol expert and veteran, Stirling also regularly addresses an Interpol reform group in Washington DC that guides policy at the highest level.

Stirling’s work has become so high profile that she and her clients have been the target of UAE led intelligence and security attacks via Israeli spy companies.

Since founding Detained in Dubai in 2008, Radha Stirling has held various senior roles in law firms in the Middle East and was recently described by Daily Beast as running "an extraordinarily slick - and convincing - PR campaign ostensibly designed to free her [Princess Latifa]".




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