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ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights

ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights

Emirati arrested by UAE security services for Twitter comments

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Emirati arrested by UAE security services for Twitter comments

 

18/03/2014

An Emirati man has been arrested and is being detained at an unknown location by state security services, after making comments on social media in support of political prisoners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Osama al-Najjar is a 25-year-old architectural engineer from Ajman and has used Twitter to demonstrate support for his father, Husain al-Najjar, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted in the “UAE 94” trial.

He was arrested at around 430pm on March 17th in Ajman after 6 unmarked cars stopped him while on his way home. State security officers did not produce a warrant but searched his house for 2 hours, seizing several computers and then took al-Najjar to an unknown location where he remains.

Authorities have not provided information about the arrest but activists believe al-Najjar is being detained for criticising the ruler of Sharjah on Twitter. After the ruler spoke on radio to say families of political prisoners should “not fill their children with hate against the country” al-Najjar tweeted:

“Your Highness, we do not hate our country and do not forget the injustice of the oppressor even if our mothers do not tell us. The people responsible for imprisoning and harassing my father for the past 20 months owe him.”

This proved to be al-Najjar’s last tweet, as he was arrested less than 24 hours later. It is believed that he is being held at a state security facility in Abu Dhabi, where inmates have repeatedly made accusations of torture. This contributed to a UN expert recently calling for an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners.

This is the latest in a series of arrests relating to comments made on Twitter. On March 11th 2 men were sentenced to 5 years in prison for criticising security services and in December a teenage activist was given a 3-year sentence for running a Twitter account that accused state security of torturing inmates.

Rori Donaghy, director, said:

“Osama al-Najjar is currently at high-risk of being tortured, as he is beyond the protection of the law in a secret state security prison. If he is being detained for making comments about the unlawful imprisonment of his father then authorities must release him immediately.

Authorities hae abandoned due process when arresting people and continue to demonstrate a complete lack of respect for free speech by detaining individuals on the basis that they have criticised human rights abuses by the state.”

 

For further information please contact Rori Donaghy on +44(0)7850062105 or at campaigns@echr.org.uk

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