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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

US Veteran Stuck in Prison After Dubai “loses passport”

The PTSD sufferer's condition has been amplified with the recent Houthi rebel strikes in the UAE

Afghanistan veteran and PTSD sufferer, Shannon Johnston, held in Dubai debtors prison because authorities “lost his passport”.

“My father has been detained for almost a year over a bank debt he could not pay”, said Jasmyn Johnston, his 22 year old daughter, “he was told because of changes to the law that he would be released earlier this month but then they couldn’t release him because they had LOST his passport”.

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai spoke to Jasmyn this week. “It’s quite common for Dubai authorities to lose passports, regularly causing release delays”, explained Stirling. Jasmyn is looking after her two young children and is desperate for her father to come home and live with them.

Shannon was told he would need an emergency passport from the US embassy but the embassy requires a new digital photo, an impossible request to fulfil from the prison. Stirling has notified the US Embassy of his plight and requested their urgent intervention. “Shannon has been through enough. He’s been held prisoner over a bank debt, lost the job he was flying to and suffered declining mental health. The PTSD sufferer has found it particularly traumatic with the latest Houthi rebel attacks, triggering flashbacks for the 42 year old.

“Given that Shannon is scheduled for release, either the UAE needs to let him free with a request to return to register his new passport or the US needs to arrange the passport replacement and overcome the obstacles. He is not able to leave the UAE immediately in any case as he will be required to file for bankruptcy he has been told. He is not an international criminal and hardly a flight risk.

“The British government has been called on to secure the safety of their prisoners, given the latest missile attacks against the UAE and the United States must do the same for their citizens.”

The Houthis have vowed to continue attacks on the capital Abu Dhabi, as well as threatening to hit locations in Dubai vital to the UAE’s tourism and financial sectors. Drone strikes have caused explosions in Musaffah and in the vicinity of Abu Dhabi International Airport. The Houthis have published threats online against multiple targets, including the iconic Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The situation is escalating rapidly, and for the first time in recent memory, the UAE appears to be descending into the turmoil of violent regional conflict, leading to serious fears about the safety of foreign nationals in the country; particularly those wrongfully trapped in detention facilities.

The father of three and grandfather, Shannon Johnston is originally from West Virginia before moving to Alabama. Read his full story here




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