Published January 14, 2015
A Pennsylvania Air Force veteran is imprisoned in “hell on earth” in the Middle East .
Spc. Michael Joslin, 28, the father of a 2½-month infant and a stepfather of two from Glendolden , PA , had a layover in the United Arab Emirates and while there, became detained in a Dubai prison on May 9, according to Fox 29’s John Atwater.
Hired by technical security provider EMW Inc. of
, less than six months ago, Joslin was to report to
to work on its security systems after a daylong layover in
However, Joslin’s unloaded personal sidearm and pain medication, which he said were approved by EMW, Philadelphia International Airport and even U.A.E.’s own Emirates Airline, were detected by Dubai customs as illegal items. They were in his checked luggage in the airplane.
Through its Washington, D.C.-based attorney Cohen Mohr, EMW said it never knew of Joslin’s possession of an unloaded pistol or of pain medication for a back injury. According to EMW, he violated company rules against bringing firearms into other countries.
“EMW never knew of Mr. Joslin’s possession of such items, much less his intent to travel with them to Dubai ,” the company stated in a letter from its attorney. “At no time did EMW approve such actions.”
While speaking from a pay phone to the Delaware County Daily Times with calling cards from weekly commissary trips at the
, Joslin said he was not aware that he needed approval for the weapon or the medications and never told EMW his intentions of bringing them.
“It was my decision,” the father of three said, calling EMW a “solid company.”
While Mohr stated that Joslin’s Afghanistan contract strictly prohibits contractor personnel from carrying firearms in theater, Joslin said he did not have a chance to read through his employee contract.
“I didn’t read my contract very thoroughly,” he said.
According to Joslin, six days after he was arrested in Dubai, his wife told him he was terminated from EMW — effective immediately — via a FedEx letter to his home.
Joslin said it was an easy way for his company to renege on his $120,000 annual salary. Calls to EMW human resources employee Sara Kingdon were not returned to the Delaware County Daily Times.
The U.S. Department of State says it is aware of Joslin’s situation in Dubai and has been assisting him since his arrest on May 9. According to the U.S. State Department’s website, it is illegal to transport firearms into the U.A.E. without express written consent of its government, regardless of airline authorities’ permission. However, the Emirates Airline website advises passengers that unloaded weapons are allowed in check-in luggage.
Joslin said he was eventually released on bail for nine days after being questioned about possessing a sidearm during his one-day stopover. He made bail by surrendering his passport to a
prosecutor. He said he stayed at the house of another American named Rick, whom he befriended while incarcerated. Joslin said he was out on bail until he was called on a purchased cell phone by the
prosecutor, who told him to come in and fill out paperwork.
Upon his return to the jail, Joslin said he was rearrested for failing a urine test that contained amounts of his prescription medications.
While out on bail, Joslin said he e-mailed his former employer.
Though the EMW attorney said the company received this contact, it was not alerted to Joslin’s re-incarceration.
Although he said he tried calling the U.S. Embassy in
to ask if he could stay there, Joslin said the embassy told him that was not part of their policy.
A U.S. representative, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., said he has requested a meeting with the United Arab Emirates ’ ambassador to the U.S. to discuss the status of the charges against Joslin.
According to the Delaware County Daily Times, while Specter’s office was helpful in the beginning, Joslin’s wife, Joanne, 27, said she was “just not getting anywhere at this point.” She has e-mailed Specter’s scheduler to request an emergency face-to-face meeting with the senator, she said.
“I need answers. I’m just not getting them,” she said.
Specter spokeswoman Kate Kelly said the senator’s office has been in contact with the State Department to ensure Joslin is not being mistreated in jail.
“While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations,” Kelly said. “The office will continue to monitor the situation and Mr. Joslin’s well-being in concert with the State Department.”
Joanne Joslin said that she has also been in contact with representatives from the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-PA, who informed her that an American Citizen Services officer from the Consul General Sutphin at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai visited her husband on May 10 and May 14.
Another visit is planned for Sunday, Sestak’s office said.
Sestak said his office provided Joslin’s wife with the current update of the State Department’s involvement with the case, and has requested a signed copy of the State Department’s notes on the case.
Sestak said he has also talked with Michael Joslin via prison phone, and has provided him with the most current information possible.
“We have contacted the consulate general in the UAE to further ensure that everything possible is being done and will continue to be done, in order to meet our government’s responsibilities when an American is arrested abroad,” Sestak said in a written statement.
Held in a free-roaming concrete jail, Joslin said conditions in the jail’s bathroom were “absolutely gross,” and spent his first five days vomiting in a trash can. He also said an outbreak of the chicken pox has been ravaging the jail, and has sent 35 prisoners to the hospital.
Joslin also said he was attacked by three inmates after they learned he was a U.S. soldier.
“I am American, I’m white and I’m a soldier, and they know that because a guard told them,” said Joslin Wednesday. “That’s not something you brag about in the
“He called me up hysterical,” his wife told the Delaware County Daily Times. “He said ‘Please get me out of here. They are doing everything they can to break me.’”
Joslin called the experience “literally hell on earth.”
authorities confiscated his pain medication, Joslin, who has two slipped disks and a removed meniscus due to a recent stateside car accident, said he has been in nearly constant, agonizing pain.
“He is ready to break,” said his wife, from their home in Glenolden. “He is not really doing all right.”
Though Joslin’s wife said she has placed numerous calls to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy, she said neither party has been helpful in providing her with any information about her husband’s situation.
“I ask, ‘What is the status of the case?’ They say they don’t know. I ask, ‘What are the charges?’ and they say, ‘I don’t know,’” Joanne Joslin said.
State Department spokesman Noel Clay said Wednesday to the Delaware County Daily Times that the U.S. Consulate was aware of Joslin’s case and has been active in assisting him since his arrest.
“Michael Joslin has received all of the appropriate assistance the U.S. Consulate is able to provide,” Clay said.
Though he said he has met repeatedly with the Dubai prosecutor, who has allegedly told him numerous times that he will be released in a matter of hours, Joslin said he has only met once with representatives from the U.S. Consulate’s office.
“They could care less,” he said of the two U.S. Consulate representatives named Jane and Patricia.
“Every time I’ve needed help, they have never showed up.”
Michael Joslin, who dropped out of Neumann University to enlist in the Air Force after the Sept. 11 attacks, said when he asked for Patricia to be present during his first meeting with the Dubai prosecutor, the U.S. Consulate said she would be there. She never showed up, he said.
“I can’t believe I put on a uniform for a country, swore to defend it, and then when I need help they say, ‘You are on your own,’” said Joslin, who served four years in the Air Force before joining the Guard while continuing his education.
A stay-at-home mom, Joanne Joslin said the family’s main source of income was terminated six days after her husband was incarcerated, when she received his termination papers.
“He is my sole provider,” she said. “I need him home.”
Supporting her family on her unemployment income while trying to maintain their rent-to-own home in Glenolden, Joanne Joslin said that she has been trying to put on a strong front for her children.
“They are in total shock right now,” she said of her children, Nicholas Taylor, 10, and Angelina Taylor, 8, both students at Prospect Park Elementary School . Though 2½-month-old Mackenzie Joslin is too young to understand what’s happening, her mother said the infant still senses something is wrong.
“They are just really sad,” she said. “I try to keep positive for the kids. I have to keep faith. It’s hard, though.”
Fox 29 and the Delaware County Daily Times contributed to this report.