International Law

I Just E-Mailed a Friend, US Lawyer Charged in Dubai Corporate Info Case Tells ABA Journal

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A U.S. lawyer criminally charged in Dubai with leaking information about his corporate employer says he simply e-mailed a friend from work a couple of times about what was going on in his life, including a job search.

But there is no way that anyone reading the e-mail he sent to a fellow in-house counsel would think he did anything criminal, Justin Connor tells the ABA Journal. “You can’t read it and say ‘This person had criminal intent.’ “

As detailed in an earlier post, the 37-year-old Connor—who is identified only by his initials in the underlying coverage and reached out to the ABA Journal after seeing the post—is facing a charge of revealing company secrets about his employer, Meraas Holdings.

However, the information in his e-mail didn’t provide a benefit or cause a loss to anyone involved, Connor says. And although the prosecution apparently may be arguing that he relayed it as part of an effort to get a job at his friend’s company, he never had an interest in working there or applied for a job there, he adds.

Connor says he is admitted in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New York and specializes in telecommunications.

Connor attributes the criminal case against him to a civil complaint he initially filed against his employer seeking an end-of-service benefit to which he says he was entitled under both his contract of employment and United Arab Emirates law. However, the suit created major political issues for him, Connor tells the ABA Journal, and he failed to anticipate how difficult it would be for him to get legal representation both to pursue the employment claim and to fight the criminal case that he says resulted from it, even though the compensation case has now been dismissed.

“It was clear that it was kind of a heavy-handed tactic to get me to withdraw the labor complaint,” he says of the criminal case against him, “and it worked.”

However, the criminal case is still proceeding, and Connor says that it will be very difficult for him to fight it in Dubai. He said he did not appear at a court hearing today because he was the only family member able to help his mother with a medical emergency that required his presence elsewhere.

A Facebook page, Justice for Justin Connor, has been set up to keep friends and colleagues apprised about the case against him, and a website is under development.

They all know him as an even-keeled, calm individual who lives a quiet life, Connor says, so he’s now hearing from many of them: “You’re the last person in the world that we thought something like this would happen to.”

Updated at 11:44 p.m. to accord with additional information provided by Connor.

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