Managing partner Cameron Doley and intellectual property expert Guy Martin are hoping to convince the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a branch of the US Treasury, to end its freezing order over the US assets of client Yassin al-Qadi. He has been described by the US Treasury as “a specially designated global terrorist”.
The order was made around one month after 11 September and coincided with a freezing order against his European assets. Doley and Martin have instructed Blackstone Chambers’ David Pannick QC and Pushpinder Saini, who were given permission last November by Mr Justice Scott Baker to seek to judicially review the UK Government’s decision to freeze al-Qadi’s UK assets.
The firm is also preparing a case to be heard before the European Court of Justice, challenging the EC’s freezing of his European assets. Doley is being assisted by McDermott Will & Emery in the US action.
Doley, who said half his practice is Middle Eastern-related, declined to comment on how his firm is being paid by al-Qadi. It is usual in instances when a client’s money has been frozen that third parties contribute or courts agree the release of frozen assets to enable defendants to pursue legal claims.
The firm is also acting for several other individuals pursuing libel claims against media organisations after being linked to international terrorism. They include Tunisia’s opposition leader, on whose behalf Doley said he had already won libel claims against two newspapers, and is pursuing a third. “There are claims by other clients, but they’re either in negotiation and therefore at a tricky stage, or proceedings have not yet been launched,” Doley said.
Al-Qadi first instructed Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners seven years ago, during a libel claim against the ‘Africa Confidential’. He was one of six Saudi businessmen who last year successfully sued the newsletter over a report which had claimed the Ethiopian authorities had “arrested a Sudanese, Siraj Mohammed Hussein, who claimed to work for the Addis branch of Moafak el Hairiya (Blessed Relief)”, which it described as an agency of the National Islamic Front government in Sudan.
Last year the US Treasury announced that al-Qadi was the founder of the Blessed Relief Foundation, a Jersey-based Islamic charity that has carried out worldwide relief work, which Saudi-donated funds went through before being transferred to Osama Bin Laden.
Doley said: “The claims originate in the US, but today all parties, including the banks and the Saudi authorities, have denied they’re the truth.” He added that the foundation ceased operating around five years ago.
“We believe we’ve provided answers to all the points raised with us [in relation to all the US allegations],” continued Doley. “The authorities have asked us to clarify further points and that’s what we’re doing. Some of the so-called evidence we’ve managed to dismiss very quickly.”
However, he said he is constrained from publicising which allegations have been dismissed, and that he is “not even able to provide details of the case against us”.