In the fourth part of this series on Americans arrested abroad, we’ll be studying two cases of American citizens who ended up incarcerated far from home. One has a happy ending, one has a tragic one. But the message remains clear: when you go to a country with significant political unrest, you’re taking a risk.
Jason Rezaian: Released (Detained 1.5 years in Iran)
Rezaian, an American-Iranian journalist, relocated to Iran in 2009 for work. He ended up with the coveted position of bureau chief at the Washington Post in Tehran. However, in 2014, Rezaian and his wife (an Iranian) were apprehended while leaving an elevator. Their purported crime? Being U.S. spies. Rezaian, the Iranian officials said, was the CIA’s Tehran chief.
Rezaian’s wife was released after a few months, but Rezaian spent 544 days behind bars. During that time he was compelled to confess to crimes he didn’t commit, held in solitary confinement, and denied medical treatment. He was released along with three other Americans in early 2016, allegedly in exchange for $400 million payment from the United States.
Layla Shweikani: Executed (Syria)
Shweikani, a 25-year-old Syrian-American from Chicago, went to Syria in September 2015 on a humanitarian mission. She was hoping to help people who were affected by the war there; she helped organize a group with the goal of providing aid to people in a suburb of Damascus. Instead, six months after her arrival, she was charged with terrorism offenses because organizing a group of any kind is taken as a threat by the Syrian government.
Shweikani spent six months in detainment, during which time she was forced to confess her ostensible crimes to the Czetch ambassador (the U.S. ambassador in the area had been withdrawn in 2012). Eight days later, she was put through a 30-second trial, after which she was moved to another prison. Her death date was later released as December 28, 2016. The U.S. government continues to face criticism for their failure to adequately pursue Shweikani’s release.
Our condolences go out to Layla Shweikani's loved ones.
Instant Law Blog has the best legal content writers to improve your lawyer SEO with law firm website content. With our help, you'll have one less thing to worry about. Contact us today to design the law firm website content package that's right for you.