By Mohammed Ghobari
SANAA (Reuters) - Bailed U.S. businessman Zack Shahin, who fled the United Arab Emirates for Yemen, may be deported to the United States as the UAE has not yet requested his extradition, Yemeni officials said on Thursday.
Yemeni authorities have contacted U.S. embassy officials to discuss handing Shahin to the United States, a Yemeni security source and a government official both told Reuters.
"According to the law, there are two choices: To return him to the country where he came from, in this case the UAE, or the country of which he is a passport holder," the security source said, declining to be identified. There was no deadline for Shahin's deportation, he added.
But neither the Yemeni foreign ministry nor Interpol in Yemen had received any extradition requests for Shahin from the UAE, officials there told Reuters.
"We have not received any message from the UAE on this subject," a foreign ministry official said, also on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. embassy in Sanaa declined to comment. A spokesman for Shahin's U.S-based legal team said he could not immediately comment. A spokesman for Dubai's public prosecutor could not immediately be reached.
Shahin, the former chief executive of Dubai real estate developer Deyaar, was jailed in 2008 for embezzlement.
He went on hunger strike in May and was freed on $1.4 million bail last month after U.S. authorities expressed concerns about his health. He then slipped into Yemen after a car trip across Oman from the UAE last week and is now in Yemeni custody.
Smuggling and undocumented travel are common across Yemen's porous desert borders.
(Additional reporting by Raissa Kasolowsky in Abu Dhabi and Praveen Menon in Dubai; Editing by Amran Abocar and Richard Meares)