Skip to main content

American detained for two months in United Arab Emirates speaks out

By Holly Yan and Greg Botelho, CNN
  • Nicholas Moody is charged with possession of weapons accessories
  • He says the items he was carrying were not dangerous
  • Moody: "Whatever the judge rules ... I will accept."
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Nevada
  • Iraq

(CNN) -- A 23-year-old Nevada man detained for more than two months in the United Arab Emirates said Monday he's not sure how much more prison time he could face if convicted, but he's prepared for the outcome of a judge's decision.

Nicholas Moody, who had served in Iraq and then Afghanistan as part of the California and then Nevada National Guards, was arrested September 29 during an 18-hour layover in Abu Dhabi while heading back from his job as a private security contractor in Iraq, his family said. Moody is charged with possession of weapons accessories -- parts that could accompany a gun, though no firearm itself -- which is illegal in the UAE.

Moody went to court on Monday expecting to hear his verdict, but was told the verdict will be given on December 13, Moody said.

In a phone conversation with CNN on Monday, Moody said his ordeal has been harrowing.

"The uncertainty -- not knowing -- is the worst part," said Moody, who has been out on bail since Wednesday.

He described his prison experience as "not very clean," with little to no privacy and "too much time to think."

"I was just wondering what could happen," Moody said. "I didn't know when it was going to end."

UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The U.S. State Department confirmed last month that Moody was detained, saying that U.S. consular officers visited him on September 30, October 6 and November 10.

"During those visits, he conveyed he was being treated fairly," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the case."

Mahmood Azmeh, an attorney for Moody, was not immediately available for comment Monday.

In a November interview, Moody's mother, Lorina Moody, said she was still coming to grips to how he landed in jail.

"Our son is the type of individual who would not have willingly broken the law," said Lorina Moody of Susanville, California.

"It seems so ironic that a man who, after serving our country in two combat zones ... is the one who got pulled aside," she said.

After graduating from high school in 2005, Nicholas Moody enrolled in the California National Guard and, for a time, served in Iraq, according to his mother. He later moved to Reno, intending to attend the University of Nevada campus there, and joined the Nevada National Guard. Nicholas Moody became an inactive Guardsman when he took his latest job in Iraq with a security company, which Lorina Moody declined to name.

Nicholas Moody said Monday that the accessories he was carrying were not dangerous. The items included a pistol grip, a buttstock, a plastic front grip, a single-point sling adaptor, a buckle from a single point sling, a cleaning kit and an armorer's wrench.

"They are not weapons themselves, and cannot be assembled into a weapon," he said.

Moody said he did not know the items were illegal. He said they were in his possession because he had recently resigned his position in Iraq and the items were his personal property.

But Moody said he is respectful of the UAE and its laws.

"The rules are the rules, so whatever the judge rules ... I will accept," he said.

"My lawyers and I have done the best we can," he added.

More than 2,000 people have expressed support to "Help Bring Nick Moody Back Home" on Facebook.

Moody said the outpouring of support for him is "humbling."

"I still remain hopeful," Moody said. "I'm hoping there's a still a chance that this will be resolved in time to make it home to spend Christmas with my family."

CNN's Jenifer Fenton and Laurie Ure contributed to this report.