BREAKING: Shaheen Announces Release of Amer Fakhoury from Lebanon

March 19, 2020

**Senator Shaheen has been working to free Dover-resident Amer Fakhoury who was held in Lebanon and whose health is in critical condition** 

**Shaheen spoke on the phone with Amer soon after his release**

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has been working closely with Amer Fakhoury’s lawyer, administration officials and diplomats to free Amer who had been held in Lebanon since September. Following months of detention and a diagnosis of Stage IV Lymphoma, Amer has finally been released and is on his way to the United States. Shaheen spoke on the phone with Amer soon after his release.

“Anytime a U.S citizen is wrongfully detained by a foreign government, we must use every tool at our disposal to free them,” said Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I’m very glad that Amer is finally coming home and will be reunited with his family. No family should have to go through what the Fakhoury family has gone through. His health is in critical condition and now it is vitally important that he receives proper treatment to get on the road to recovery. I have long supported close ties between the United States and Lebanon, and hope this is a first step to repairing relations.”

Shaheen continued,“Securing Amer’s release has been a bipartisan team effort, and I want to thank Amer's lawyer Celine Atallah, Ambassador O’Brien and his National Security Council staff, particularly Virginia Boney and others that cannot be named, Special Envoy Carstens, Ambassador Richard, Ambassador Shea and her stellar team, Secretary Esper, General Milley, Senator Cruz and his staff, Senator Risch, Senator Menendez, Secretary Pompeo and President Trump.” 

A statement issued by the Fakhoury family: “It’s hard to put into words how grateful and relieved we are to finally be returning to the United States with Amer. We have been through a nightmare that we would never wish on anyone. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank everyone who believed in Amer’s innocence and fought tirelessly to bring him home to the country he loves. First and foremost, we want to thank Senator Shaheen and her staff who have been relentless in their efforts to free Amer. Senator Shaheen pursued every means possible to secure Amer’s freedom—this would not have happened without her. Amer considers Senator Shaheen his hero.”

The statement continues, “We want to make special mention of Naz Durakoglu on Shaheen’s staff. We also want to give special thanks to Senator Cruz and everyone in the administration who assisted this enormous effort, in particular, Ambassador O’Brien, Virginia Boney, Special Envoy Carstens, Ambassador Shea, Under Secretary Hale, Assistant Secretary Schenker, the U.S. embassy’s consular affairs team, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley, Ambassador Richard, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Esper and President Trump. Everyone involved exhibited incredible dedication to their fellow citizen. We also want to thank the journalists who reported accurately on Amer and avoided the slander that was being directed at him. Amer is in very poor health and urgently needs care, but all of you gave him a fighting chance and most importantly, hope and freedom. God Bless America.”

Senators Shaheen and Cruz introduced the Zero Tolerance for Unlawful Detentions of U.S. Citizens in Lebanon Act (Zero Tolerance Act) would impose sanctions against Lebanese officials who are involved in the unlawful detainment, arrest or abuse of any United States citizen in Lebanon.

Amer is a well-known and well-liked small business owner from Dover, New Hampshire who was visiting Lebanon in September 2019 when his U.S. passport was confiscated. Soon after, he was taken into custody and illegally detained in Beirut. While in prison, it was discovered that he was suffering from stage 4 cancer. Earlier this year, the Lebanese military court charged Amer with unsubstantiated crimes that carry a punishment of death without producing any material evidence to back these allegations. A judge eventually dismissed the charges against him. Since September, Shaheen has been working with Amer’s lawyer, the White House and the State Department to free him. Shaheen raised his case multiple times in Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Subcommittee hearings.