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Dear Supporters of the Global Liberty Alliance & Friends,

It is an end to another busy year at the Global Liberty Alliance. We wanted to thank you for helping the Global Liberty Alliance do amazing things this year and want to ask you to stay by our side in 2019. In fact a lot of the work we do is not headline-grabbing, but it is vital to our clients and others on the front lines defending liberty, fundamental rights, and the rule of law.

We finished the year strong, but we have a lot more work to do, and we need your help to grow and be even more successful in 2019! 

This month as the U.S. Congress passed and President Trump signed one of the most rigorous bipartisan anti-corruption sanctions programs for Nicaragua, the Sandinistas threatened to expropriate homes, land, and businesses. Americans are being targeted as are any persons pressing the Sandinistas for more transparency and the rule of law. It was another escalation in a tense political standoff that has resulted in hundreds of deaths of innocent people, including at least one American citizen.

As in other totalitarian nations or countries with weak democratic institutions, the rule of law in Nicaragua is non-existent. The skeleton of what was once an independent legal system has become a tool of oppression. We are concerned this may happen in 2019 in other Central American nations where sovereignty-eroding and rule of law-eroding mechanisms are taking hold in at at least two countries.

For several years we have worked closely with brave lawyers and civil society leaders in Nicaragua, Cuba, and elsewhere. This year in Nicaragua there was a spike in attacks, and we have offered expert commentary about the importance of the rule of law to U.S. policymakers, Nicaraguan lawyers on the frontlines, and the media. Here are links to two recent stories that may interest you, here and here.

The Alliance’s work in Nicaragua is just one example of how with your help, the GLA made a difference and worked daily to research, report, and act. From defending Americans unlawfully detained or held hostage in foreign nations, or Americans subjected to other illegal measures such as INTERPOL abuse, we need YOUR help to keep the GLA growing and succeeding.

One of our goals is also to inform you how U.S. taxpayer monies are used, or abused, by foreign interests such as NGOs that work against U.S. interests and foreign governments, especially in the Western Hemisphere. We highlight issues that directly affect American interests, primarily focusing on the rule of law. Without the rule of law, democracies suffer and, eventually, dictators and oligarchs thrive.

If you care about border security, stopping the flow of illegal drugs, abuse of the U.S. financial system, or stemming terrorism and other transnational crime, the rule of law is essential, especially in places closer to the U.S. border in Central America and the Caribbean.

As 2018 ends, the Global Liberty Alliance team thanks all of its extraordinary supporters who have been so generous with time, money, and ideas. Without your help, the Global Liberty Alliance’s critical work would not be possible. If you have not yet donated in 2018, please consider making a U.S. tax-deductible contribution today.

The 2018 update is slightly longer than I’d like it to be, but we have a lot of information to share with you. Please take a few minutes learn more about 2018 GLA accomplishments and see how you can support efforts to advance liberty and rule of law at home and abroad next year! 

First, a huge thank you to the Florida International University (FIU) College of Law and the FIUinDC team for making possible the GLA’s first summer legal internship program. Three very talented law students interned for the Global Liberty Alliance this summer. Besides learning legal advocacy and policymaking skills, GLA interns helped GLA lawyers with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cases, cases of unlawfully detained persons in two nations and other international human rights law matters. We are looking forward to continuing and improving the internship program in 2019!

Yuri Perez (right) with the Global Liberty Alliance traveled to New York, where the United States’s mission to the United Nations, under the leadership of Ambassador Nikki Haley, launched a campaign called “Jailed for What?” at the United Nations to highlight the plight of an estimated 130 Cuban political prisoners. Also pictured are Mr. John Suarez from Freedom House and Ms. Sirley Avila Leon (a machete attack survivor from Cuba and human rights defender). 

After the summer, we welcomed the newest member of the Global Liberty Alliance team, Mr. Yuri Perez! Yuri joined the GLA June 2018. Among other accomplishments, Yuri led a pro-democracy youth group which trained a number of them as a human rights lawyer in Cuba, before being forced to flee because of his strong belief in individual rights and the rule of law. Yuri was also a former project implementer at Freedom House, and he has been developing the GLA’s Western Hemisphere programs. We look forward to working with Yuri in 2019 on projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The GLA docket is filling up. For example, the GLA legal team has been defending unlawfully detained persons in Iran and Cuba and also pressing the U.S. government to release information about various U.S. government programs affecting U.S. national interests related. Unfortunately, American citizens and U.S. legal permanent residents have always been a favorite target of totalitarian regimes. One of our clients’ case was profiled by NBC earlier this year. The matter involved an American citizen detained in Cuba since December 2017. 

According to secret Cuban military court documents obtained by the Global Liberty Alliance, this individual was tried by a secret Cuban military tribunal and charged with espionage, a charge she vehemently denies. Her family resides in Miami Beach, Florida. Her elderly mother travels to Cuba, whenever she can, to plead for her daughter and take food to her at a women’s prison, where political prisoners are held.

Over in Nicaragua, democracy is under attack, and Nicaraguan lawyers are on the front lines of this effort. About three years ago, we started a project involving INTERPOL abuse by the Sandinista government. This INTERPOL abuse case was highlighted by a UK-based NGO, Fair Trials International. Fair Trials is staffed by a very talented team of lawyers who have advocated for many years for INTERPOL reform. We are very grateful for their interest and support of our client’s case.

This year we created a Nicaragua working group of lawyers and civil society leaders. This initiative will continue and increase in 2019 and will focus on exposing violations of fundamental rights and corruption. Unfortunately, the crackdown by strongman Daniel Ortega has forced many lawyers to take a lower profile which hampers their work. One lawyer we work with has fled to Costa Rica, as have thousands of other Nicaraguans, but he remains engaged and hopes to return soon. We are also in contact with two of the leading human rights organizations in Nicaragua and aim to expand projects in 2019.

In the United States, the GLA continues to support property rights, and the Pike Creek Farm of Whittaker Chambers remains on the GLA’s radar. Pike Creek Farm was one of the GLA’s early victories. You can learn about it here. One of the new projects the GLA is considering for 2019 includes increasing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) advocacy to study if U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance programs are as effective as they can be, especially when it comes to the rule of law. Whether in the courthouse, or before Congress, or the media, we intend to raise awareness of these issues in 2019 and well beyond.

So what else is on tap for 2019? Read on … (almost done!).  Global Liberty Alliance goals for 2019 include: 

  • Expanding support of lawyers and the rule of law NGOs who are doing work in places such as China, Vietnam, and Rwanda as well as expanding efforts already underway in Cuba and Nicaragua. There will also be a lot of work to do to clear the docket of existing work and take on new cases.
  • Helping bring home Americans and U.S. Legal Permanent Residents held hostage or otherwise unlawfully detained in foreign nations.
  • FOIA advocacy will feature prominently in the Alliance’s work for 2019, especially when it comes to learning how your tax dollars are spent in foreign nations for the rule of law programs. Are these monies helping stem illegal immigration or making it worse? Are U.S. interests being advanced or undermined? And much more.
  • Working with lawyers and technology experts, the GLA wants to create better tools for lawyers and civil society leaders to document gross violations of human rights. This includes the creation of mobile applications and software that would help collect evidence of human right abuses. Gathering evidence of human rights abuses is difficult and, in closed societies governed by a totalitarian government, downright dangerous for the lawyer or civil society actor. However, to prevent atrocity crimes and other gross violations of human rights, data collection is essential. 
  • Don’t let the “Global” in our title limit your ideas for potential work. There are challenges to fundamental liberties right here in the United States, albeit, and fortunately, not as urgent action when compared to other nations. America is a free country with a strong rule of law tradition; however, now and then government officials in local, state, and federal governments need to be reminded of this, and we are prepared to do the reminding. If you know of an issue in your town or community, let us know!

As 2018 rolls to an end and 2019 begins, the Global Liberty Alliance team thanks all of its supporters who have been so generous to us with time, money, and other support. As we grow, your help and guidance are more essential than ever before to help the GLA carry out its mission. Without your help, the Global Liberty Alliance’s critical work would not be possible.  We would not be able to hire or contract with the best lawyers and public policy professionals who are committed to liberty and the rule of law. 

If you have not yet donated, please make a U.S. tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for taking the time to read our 2018 annual update. Have a blessed holiday and a prosperous New year.  Thank you for donating!

Warm thanks and Happy New Year, 

Jason I. Poblete, Founder, Global Liberty Alliance

The Global Liberty Alliance is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, Federal Tax ID #81-4075028. Contributions to the Global Liberty Alliance are tax deductible in the U.S. to the full extent of the law. A receipt for tax purposes will be sent to you at the address you specify.

WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: Iranian Official Slams Regime Over Mistreatment of Imprisoned American

The following article was published by The Washington Free Beacon on September 20, 2018. The original publication can be read here.

Continue reading WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: Iranian Official Slams Regime Over Mistreatment of Imprisoned American

NBC: Family of Cuban-American jailed in Cuba for espionage pleads for U.S attorney, consular visits

** The following story was published by NBC News on September 7, 2018. The original publication can be found here.

Family of Cuban-American jailed in Cuba for espionage pleads for U.S attorney, consular visits

The case of Alina López Miyares runs into Cuba’s policy of considering anyone born in Cuba to be a Cuban national once they step foot on the island.

Continue reading NBC: Family of Cuban-American jailed in Cuba for espionage pleads for U.S attorney, consular visits

TV Martí: Lawyers try to clarify situation of American accused of espionage in Cuba

The following interview with attorney Jason Poblete aired on TV Martí on May 7, 2018.  Based in Alexandria, Virginia, Poblete is part of a team of lawyers trying to clarify the case on an American accused of espionage in Cuba. Since Ms. Miyares was detained and held in Cuba in October 2017, she has been denied consular service by Cuban authorities.

Continue reading TV Martí: Lawyers try to clarify situation of American accused of espionage in Cuba

UPDATE 22- Zakka Family Appreciates Efforts By President Trump & U.S. Congress

Statement on the Trump Administration’s Efforts to Secure Release of Hostages in Iran

Zakka Family Appreciates Efforts By President Trump & U.S. Congress

The following statement was made by Nizar Zakka’s attorney in the United States, Mr. Jason Poblete following the announcement of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA:

Continue reading UPDATE 22- Zakka Family Appreciates Efforts By President Trump & U.S. Congress

Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri to condemn Iran for “kidnapping” Nizar Zakka

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri will issue a statement before May 6 condemning Iran for “kidnapping” Lebanese Citizen and U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Nizar Zakka, Mr. Zakka’s brother, said in a statement Saturday. The announcement comes a few days after the U.S. Congress voted 410-2 to approve the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act that called for increased international cooperation in resolving several cases of unlawfully detained persons held in Iran, including Nizar Zakka.

Db9e-0BU8AAvZyOIf enacted, the law would impose new economic sanctions on Iranian officials for serious human rights abuses including hostage taking. The Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act builds upon two Congressional resolutions unanimously approved last year in the House of Representatives (H.Res. 317) and the Senate (S.Res. 245). The legislation is available at this U.S. Congress website.

In addition to the economic sanctions, one of the key components of the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act is that it urges the Trump administration to work with international partners to investigate human rights violations by senior Iranian government officials, regardless of where or when such violations took place.

“Mr. Zakka, his family, friends and supporters are deeeply grateful and thank the U.S. Congress for not forgetting him and other unlawfully detained persons in Iran,” said Jason I. Poblete, Mr. Zakka’s attorney in the United States.

A U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and Lebanese national, Zakka was kidnapped and unlawfully detained after traveling to Iran to attend a state-sponsored conference in Tehran in 2015. At the time of the unlawful detention, Zakka was the secretary-general of IJMA3, an Arab communications organization, and had received an official invitation to visit from an Iranian vice president.

In November 2016, without elaboration, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reporters in Lebanon that “what happened with Mr. Zakka is not a problem between Iran and Lebanon, seeing as the problem was the violation of the applicable laws in Iran by a foreigner, and the problem is actually between the United States and Iran.”

In addition to ongoing efforts in the United States, the Daily Star of Lebanon reports that the Zakka family has been lobbying the Lebanese government to raise the subject with Iran and criticized ministers for not doing enough to secure Zakka’s release. You can read the entire Daily Star of Lebanon story by following this link.

The Global Liberty Alliance has worked with Mr. Zakka’s counsel in the United States as well as Mr. Zakka’s lawyer in Lebanon. In the United States, Alliance efforts have included raising awareness of Mr. Zakka’s plight with U.S. policymakers such as then-Congressman, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (see video below).

For more information about Nizar Zakka’s case as well as other Global Liberty Alliance efforts in the United States and Europe, please visit this Global Liberty Alliance website.