A Windsor, Ont., teen whose father has been detained in the United Arab Emirates for more than a year will be raising his case with European Union officials this week.
Marwa Alaradi's trip to Brussels is the 18-year-old's latest effort to free her father, who has been languishing behind bars since last August.
Salim Alaradi, a 46-year-old Canadian businessman, has not been charged, hasn't been able to communicate with his family since March and no explanation has been provided on why he's being held.
It's been a difficult experience for Alaradi's family, who say they've been appealing to anyone who may be able to exert influence to win his freedom.
"We're trying to spread the word around the world and let other countries know about this dark side of the U.A.E.," his daughter told The Canadian Press. "We're going specifically to the EU because they have relations with the U.A.E. We want the parliament to know what is going on in those secret prisons."
Members of Alaradi's family and human rights advocates are expected to meet with a number of European Union parliamentarians on Tuesday to discuss what role the EU parliament could play to help resolve cases like Alaradi's.
Alaradi was born in Libya and immigrated to Canada from the U.A.E. in 1998, living in Vancouver with his family. He decided to return to the U.A.E. in 2007 to run a home appliance business with his brother.
He and his family were on vacation in the U.A.E. when he was abruptly detained by the country's security services. For two months his family didn't know if he was dead or alive. They then found out he was being held at an Abu Dhabi prison, though they have never been told why.
Amnesty International has noted that Alaradi was among 10 men of Libyan origin reportedly detained in the U.A.E. at the same time.
Initially, the family didn't speak out on the case, hoping it could quietly be resolved. Alaradi's brother had also been separately detained at the same time but was released four months later. Three other men detained in the same sweep were also released.
But after seven months with no progress, Alaradi's wife and his five children left the U.A.E., moved in with family members in Windsor, Ont., and began to speaking out about the case this summer.
"It's hard for me, it's all new," Alaradi's daughter said of her fight to free her father. "I'm trying to spread the word that I need my father."
The most recent update the family has been able to get on Alaradi came through another detainee, who in a phone call to his family about a month ago said Alaradi's health was deteriorating. The news has added to the family's concerns that Alaradi is being mistreated.
While Alaradi's daughter hopes her trip to Brussels will spur some movement on her father's case, she is also still calling on the Canadian government to come to her family's aid.
"Whoever is going to be the next prime minister, I just want them to know my father is a Canadian citizen and he has done nothing wrong," she said. "He deserves to come back to his family."
A spokeswoman with the Department of Foreign Affairs said consular services are being provided to Alaradi and his family.
"Canada takes allegations of mistreatment extremely seriously," said Rachna Mishra. "Senior Canadian officials are in contact with the appropriate authorities in the United Arab Emirates to raise concerns regarding Mr. Alaradi’s health and well-being and consular access."
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