Fears man being held over Assad activism
The family of a Syrian-Irish man detained earlier this month in the United Arab Emirates believe he is being held because of his activism against the Assad regime.
Khaled Berakdar, who lives in Abu Dhabi, was first summoned for questioning in December. “They asked about the money he has being sending to Syria and about his opinion toward the Syrian regime and the uprising,” said his brother Mohammed, who lives in Belfast.
“They asked if he would stop his support for the revolution. Khaled said he sends money to his father and he would not stop supporting the revolution.”
Stopped at airport
A week later, Mr Berakdar was stopped at the airport as he was due to fly to Ireland and told he was not allowed to leave the UAE. According to his family, Mr Berakdar was summoned again for questioning on February 7th after which he disappeared. The family was subsequently informed that he was in police custody.
His brother claimed there have been several cases of Syrian activists being arrested in the UAE and forced to sign statements saying they will stop their work.
He said his brother’s only activity against the regime was on Facebook. “We are very concerned for his safety,” he added.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi had contacted authorities there regarding the case and was awaiting a response.
The situation is complicated by the fact Mr Berakdar was not in the UAE on his Irish passport and therefore the authorities have no obligation to give information to Irish officials.