Legal Team Including Erica Benites Giese Secures Freedom for Afghan Soldier Abdul Wasi Safi

January 26, 2023 | Client Results

After escaping Afghanistan to evade torture and execution from the Taliban for helping the United States, Afghan soldier Abdul Wasi Safi was arrested in September 2022 at the U.S.-Mexico border while attempting to seek asylum in the United States.

As Wasi’s physical health began to deteriorate, a legal team led by Texas criminal defense attorney Zachary Fertitta was brought in to help Wasi get the criminal charges dropped. Fertitta, who previously worked with Jackson Walker partner Erica Benites Giese at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston, brought Erica on to assist with the case and to lead the criminal case in Del Rio.

Drawing on her experience as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Erica secured additional time to meet with and negotiate with the government. As a result of her and the team’s outstanding advocacy, the Western District of Texas – Del Rio Division on January 23, 2023, dismissed the charges against Wasi. He was released from custody early yesterday morning.

“If removed from the United States and returned to Afghanistan, Abdul Wasi Safi would face certain death. His life was and is still in the balance,” Erica stated. “Our immediate goal was to secure a dismissal of the criminal charges and give him an opportunity for a fresh start in this country, but our secondary goal was to secure his release from custody so he could be reunited with his brother. Our next step is to secure asylum and save him from torture and execution by the Taliban. Thanks to the support of so many, including Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, he has a chance at freedom.”

A press conference will be held in Houston on Friday, January 27, 2023.

For more information about the case, view the following articles published by media outlets around the nation:

Erica GieseMeet Erica

Investigations & White Collar Defense Chair Erica Benites Giese handles civil and criminal white collar investigation and litigation matters, healthcare fraud matters, government contract fraud inquiries, bank and wire fraud investigations, and immigration worksite enforcement actions. She also advises and advocates for individual and corporate victims of fraud. Since 2019, Scene in S.A. has recognized Erica as one of the “Best S.A. Lawyers” in the area of criminal defense. She was also named to among the Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America in 2022 in the area of White Collar and Investigations.

Outside of Jackson Walker, Erica serves as a member of the U.S. District Court Admissions Committee, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the American Bar Association’s Women’s White Collar Defense Section, and President of the Federal Bar Association’s San Antonio Chapter.