Nearly three decades after he was tortured by high-ranking officials in the United Arab Emirates, Los Angeles resident Khaled Hassen secured a $10 million settlement against three members of the country’s ruling family, the Intercept reports.
The settlement, a rarity in geopolitical relations, was obtained after State Department communications from 2006 showed top U.S. officials trying to secure his release from the “highest levels” of the UAE government.
Those cables proved—despite the UAE’s denial—that Hassen was held captive in Abu Dhabi from at least 1984. According to his suit, Hassen was subjected to torture until November 1985, including being beaten, bound, hung by his feet, kept in a windowless seven by ten foot cell without air conditioning and force-fed liquids.
Hassan brought the suit against the crown prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the emir of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan and General Saeed Hilal Abdullah al Darmaki. Unable to serve the three men in the UAE, lawyers for Hassen served the UAE’s Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al Otaiba in 2009.
As the Intercept reports, Otaiba worked with the UAE foreign minister to “shield the ruling family from liability,” including removing emir Nahyan from the case—a request then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agree to. But he was unable to get the State Department to intervene further in the litigation. In March 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry, who had replaced Clinton at the department, declined to offer immunity to crown prince Nahyan.
As a condition of his settlement, Hassen is not allowed to speak about the case; documents confirming the lawsuit were obtained by the Intercept through a “hacker,” or someone who had access to Otaiba’s hotmail account.