"He is rotting," Martin Lonergan, a British activist who met Zack in prison, told Fox News. "If you can imagine a man is dying because he's rotting … they're cutting bits of Zack away, and he's dying trying to fight the infection."
In a final attempt to get Zack home, his family submitted mercy letters to the State Department on Nov. 23. The Shahins went back and forth with State Department officials for nearly two weeks, revising their letters until they were finally sent to the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 6.
The Shahins didn't know it, but the U.S. was simultaneously negotiating the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, which the UAE helped facilitate.
"They completely abandoned us . . . they completely pushed us to the side," Ramy Shahin, Zack’s son, told Fox News. "Maybe we’re not newsworthy enough for them — we’re not famous, we’re just an ordinary family — and they just left us."
In 2004, Zack was recruited to the UAE by Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, the country's minister of finance and chairman of the Dubai Islamic Bank. He was made CEO of a real estate development firm that the bank owned, Deyaar. Over the next four years, the $5 million private firm became a $1.5 billion publicly traded company, and the second-largest publicly traded real estate company on the Dubai Stock Exchange.
But when Dubai's ruler died in 2006, the political fallout engulfed bin Kharbash and disrupted Zack's success, according to his family. He resigned from Deyaar in early March 2008.
On March 23, Zack, then 43, was called into an auditing meeting. There, he was abducted by state security, Zack's family said. After 17 days in solitary confinement, he was taken to the police station and arrested on charges of fraud, embezzlement and other financial crimes — charges his family says are false and politically motivated.
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