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Fifth Member of U.S. Congress Requests Global Magnitsky Investigation into Kuwaiti Officials

Washington–October 22, 2019–Crowell & Moring announced today that Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, R-Fla., has become the fifth member of U.S. Congress to request a Global Magnitsky investigation into Kuwaiti officials over charges of human rights violations against Marsha Lazareva, an Orthodox Christian business leader who spent 474 days in a Kuwait prison on false charges.

The Global Magnitsky Act authorizes the United States to impose sanctions against foreign citizens who have been found to have committed human rights violations. This includes the freezing of assets in U.S. financial institutions, and prohibition from entering the U.S.

Bilirakis is a former member of the House Committee on Foreign affairs and current member of the Caucus on International Religious Freedom He joins four other members of Congress—including Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Representatives Madeleine Dean, D-Penn., Paul Gosar R-Ariz., and Steve Chabot, R-Ohio,—who called for an investigation earlier this year.

Bilirakis sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in support of the Trump Administration opening an inquiry into the conviction and imprisonment of Lazareva, a former U.S. permanent resident who continues to be detained in Kuwait along with her five-year-old son, a U.S. citizen.

In the letter, Bilirakis notes that Senior Department of State officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, have engaged Kuwaiti officials on the wrongful detention of Lazareva. He also notes that Lazareva was originally convicted based on the testimony of a single witness who was subsequently found guilty of forging documents used as evidence against her.

“I find the circumstances of this case troubling and am fully supportive of your office investigating the matter under the Act,” Rep. Bilirakis writes. “This kind of improper conduct and human rights abuse is not acceptable by a trusted ally in the Gulf Region. The Kuwait government needs to address these concerns.”

Previous requests for an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Act have names six Kuwaiti officials as likely targets: Sheikh Youssef Al-Sabah, General Manager of the Kuwait Port Authority; Attorney General Dherar Ali Al-Asousi; Sheikh Khaled Abdullah S. N. Al-Sabah, the Chief of Amir Protocol and Chamberlain; Prosecutor Homood Al-Shamy;  Judge Metab Al-Ardi; and State Audit Bureau official Hamad Al-Allayan.

In May 2019, a petition was filed requesting an investigation into her unlawful detention and inhumane treatment with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Letters from all Members of Congress can be viewed here.


Rebecca Carr
Director of PR, Media and Communication
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