Ted Cruz warns that ‘Americans are watching’ UAE as doctor says imprisoned US citizen has only weeks to live

A Houston-based doctor who reviewed his medical files told Senator Ted Cruz to warn the UAE that “the Americans are watching.”

Newly obtained medical records show that Zach Shaheen, a naturalized American from Texas, suffers from cardiovascular and neurological problems, thyroid, gastrointestinal and prostate ailments, as well as infections causing his flesh to rot, among other ailments. His family upholds Shaheen’s innocence and said the US State Department took little action.

Dr. Sanford Lubetkin, who is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asking for help. “His general health conditions are unacceptable at best.”

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After reviewing medical records, Lubetkin implored the State Department to take “whatever is necessary and appropriate” to facilitate the release of the American and warned that Shaheen “could die within weeks” if nothing was done. The prisoner’s family also sent Shaheen’s medical files to the State Department, because, as far as they knew, officials there had been unable to obtain those records.

“We are not medical experts, but it is always helpful to get a more complete picture of your father’s current health,” the State Department wrote Tuesday in an email reviewed by Fox News. “We’re continuing to work on your father’s case and I’ll be sure to come back again when I have substantive updates to share.”

The State Department did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Cruz was in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and called on the United Arab Emirates to release Shaheen.

“It’s been a long time since Zack Shaheen came home and was reunited with his family,” the Texas Republican told Fox News in a statement. “I’ve seen the reports about his health and his hospitalization, and the undeniable fact is that he’s getting worse, not better.”

“This case is no longer about alleged wrongdoing but about basic human empathy,” Cruz added. “The UAE is a close and valuable ally, and the Americans are watching closely to make sure they are doing the right thing.”

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Zak Shaheen still has more than 40 years left to serve his sentence, but his family said they don’t expect him to survive a few more weeks.
(Courtesy of the Shaheen family)

Shaheen, headed by a successful real estate developer in the UAE, but he quit in 2008 when political fallout ensued following the death of Dubai’s ruler. He was arrested soon after and eventually convicted of fraud, embezzlement, and other financial crimes.

The four largest global accounting firms audited his company’s previous accounts for the years in which the Lebanese national was CEO and found no financial losses or evidence of the crimes he was accused of committing, according to the Shaheen family.

Martin Lonergan, who was detained with Shaheen in 2020, previously explained the inhumane living conditions in a UAE prison. He described his former prison cellmate as a “broken man” and “rotten”.

Shaheen was taken to the hospital in the fall. Medical files as well as his testimony, obtained by Fox News, show that Shaheen has undergone eight procedures since 2019, including an operation in October and another in November to remove rotting flesh from a Pseudomonas infection.

These botched surgeries caused further complications and infection that spread to Shaheen’s lungs, according to Lubetkin.

Zak Shaheen, 58, has been illegally held in a Dubai prison for 15 years, his family said, for crimes he did not commit.

Zak Shaheen, 58, has been illegally held in a Dubai prison for 15 years, his family said, for crimes he did not commit.
(Courtesy of the Shaheen family)

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In his letter to Blinken, the doctor wrote that Shaheen had a hernia that could not be operated on due to his poor health and had problems with coronary arteries that put him at risk of serious heart disease.

In addition, Lubetkin pointed out that Shahin suffers from many neurological problems caused by the living conditions in prison. An Emirati neurosurgeon recommended spine surgery.

Because of this array of health issues, Shaheen said, he prescribes 22 medications daily. But the imperfection prevents him from getting up to four of these at any one time.

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