A Canadian acquitted of charges he faced in the United Arab Emirates has been released from prison and could leave the country as early as Wednesday, his family told The Canadian Press, calling the news "an amazing surprise."
Salim Alaradi had been accused of providing supplies to groups in a foreign country without permission of the U.A.E. government and collecting donations without the government's permission.
Salim Alaradi was acquitted of all charges by the United Arab Emirates Supreme Court. (Photo: Facebook)
The 48-year-old was found not guilty in the case on Monday, but wasn't immediately released, prompting his family to appeal to Ottawa to help bring him home.
Alaradi's family said his Emirati lawyer was told around 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday that the man could be picked up from an Abu Dhabi prison.
"We are shocked because we didn't see this coming. This was an amazing surprise for my family," Alaradi's oldest daughter Marwa Alaradi told The Canadian Press. "But I ask that we remain cautious until my father is safely home with us."
Salim Alaradi is spending the night with his local lawyer and plans to leave the country as early as Wednesday, his family said, with plans to be accompanied to the airport by Canadian officials.
"He is happy but his exhaustion and stress was very clear," Alaradi's daughter said of her father's state. "He is very sick."
Alaradi's Canadian lawyer has said the father of five plans to leave the U.A.E. and travel to Istanbul where he will meet his family and receive immediate medical treatment.
Alaradi to return to Ontario
Once he is healthy enough, Alaradi and his family plan to return to their home in Windsor, Ont.
Alaradi immigrated to Canada in 1998 from the U.A.E. but returned there in 2007 to run a home appliance business. He was on vacation with his family in Dubai when he was suddenly arrested in August 2014.
At the time, he was among 10 men of Libyan origin who were abruptly detained — some of them were later released.
After being held for months without being charged, Alaradi was put on trial early this year on terrorism charges, which he pleaded not guilty to. Those charges were abruptly dropped in March and replaced with two lesser offences.
The case has drawn international attention ever since Alaradi and his co-accused were put on trial.
UN human rights experts demanded the U.A.E. immediately release the men.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also examined the men's cases and cited advocates for the detainees alleging that the men had been deprived of sleep for up to 20 days, beaten on the hands and legs and suffered "electric shocks with an electric chair."