US crypto entrepreneur arrested in Dubai alleges torture by police

An American cryptocurrency entrepreneur embroiled in a legal dispute with Sam Lee, the CEO of the defunct crypto fund HyperVerse, has been detained in Dubai and alleges that police subjected him to torture to extract a false confession, according to revelations by the Guardian.

Edel Hsieh, a 43-year-old from California, was initially arrested in March at Dubai’s airport while attempting to travel to London. During his interrogation, he claims to have been physically assaulted by the police.

In a recorded jail call obtained by the Guardian, Hsieh recounted the harrowing experience, describing instances of physical abuse, including threats of sexual violence against him and his wife. He alleges that police demanded money from him during the interrogation.

His detention stems from a legal complaint filed by one of his business partners, besides Lee, accusing him of theft. Hsieh’s wife believes this complaint led to his arrest, as financial disputes in Dubai can result in criminal charges.

Hsieh has been held at Al Barsha jail in Dubai for two months, with deteriorating conditions and health issues. Despite the severity of his situation, the US consulate in Dubai has indicated its inability to intervene on his behalf.

His ordeal began with his involvement in Fomodex, a cryptocurrency exchange company developed in Dubai in 2021, along with Lee and another partner. Disagreements arose over business practices, leading Hsieh to demand a refund of his investment from Lee, which eventually resulted in legal action. However, Lee denies being Hsieh’s business partner and asserts that he only provided advice.

Meanwhile, Lee faces charges in the US for his alleged involvement in the HyperVerse scheme, which authorities have labeled a multi-billion-dollar pyramid and Ponzi scheme. Despite these allegations, Lee denies any wrongdoing.

Hsieh’s detention underscores the challenges faced by foreigners in Dubai’s legal system, with allegations of abuse and torture being common among detainees. The UAE has positioned itself as a global cryptocurrency hub, but concerns persist about the treatment of individuals involved in legal disputes.

As Hsieh’s wife fears for his well-being and hopes for his release, the broader implications of his case highlight the complexities of navigating legal disputes and the criminal justice system in Dubai, especially concerning financial matters and cryptocurrency-related activities.


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