Originally Posted by Master Baiter
When and why did he go to the Middle East? I also wonder why he is dressed like a chick. One weird dude.
Man, MJ is still an AMERICAN HERO, he's HELPED out this American in trouble
Dallas Austin's Influential Friends And Associates Saved Him From Dubai Prison
Monday July 10, 2006 @ 06:00 PM
By: ChartAttack.com Staff
You wouldn't think that an R&B producer convicted for cocaine possession and an ultra-conservative senator from Utah would have much in common, but Dallas Austin and Orrin Hatch share the same lawyer — and that connection may have allowed Austin to escape spending four years in a Dubai prison.
The influential Republican, singer/songwriter Lionel Richie, producer Quincy Jones and numerous other well-connected lawyers, politicians and businessmen from around the world apparently intervened on Austin's behalf after he was sentenced to four years in prison for possessing more than a gram of cocaine when he arrived at Dubai International Airport on May 19 to attend a birthday bash for supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Hatch, who has recorded religious-oriented albums, made a number of phone calls on Austin's behalf to the ambassador and consul of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington, D.C. and acted as an intermediary to Austin's representatives. Both men have Atlanta's Joel Katz as a lawyer, and Katz and Washington attorney Joe Reeder spent 10 days in Dubai working on securing Austin's freedom. They asked for help from Hatch, who advocates treatment for non-violent drug offenders and easing restrictions on medication to treat heroin addiction.
Hatch has clout in Dubai due to his support for the U.A.E.-based company DP World, which made headlines earlier this year from a deal involving its taking over the management of key U.S. ports. Hatch said in a statement that he was "confident that this talented young man [Austin] will learn from this experience."
"This involved multiple ambassadors, a prime minister, a prince, Lionel Richie, the senator and religious leaders in Atlanta," Reeder told The New York Times.
Katz also hired two lawyers from Dubai and one from neighbouring Bahrain, who were able to have Austin's initial charge of drug trafficking (which can carry a life sentence or even the death penalty in Dubai) reduced to possession.
Jones and his friend Joe Robert, who's also an associate of Austin's and who has important real estate investments in the Persian Gulf, also made calls to important Middle East contacts, including senior officials in the U.A.E., on behalf of Austin.
Katz contacted Prince Abdullah of Bahrain, a friend of Michael Jackson, and Reeder consulted former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for a legal reference.
Richie, who's a bigger star in the Middle East than he is in North America these days, has performed twice in Dubai this year and also has ties with several senior government officials there. He received a call from the U.A.E.'s consul in Washington, Abdulla Ali Alsaboosi, who was seeking a character reference for Austin.
"I said, 'Listen, this is a great guy,'" Richie said. "He's done a great job for the community. A gangster, a hoodlum, a thug, he's not."
After the pardon, Austin, Katz and Reeder caught the next flight to New York City. After returning home, Austin released a statement that said, "This unfortunate experience has had a profound effect on me, and I regret any grief caused to my family, friends and business associates."
While the Dubai government didn't give a reason for the pardon, the head of police told the Times that such moves aren't unusual.
"It is preferable to me that a foreigner who is caught in something like this be returned home rather than be kept here in prison for four years, costing us lots of resources," said Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, who added that Austin had technically been deported and probably wouldn't be allowed to return to Dubai.