EMIRATI ACADEMIC SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS
On 29 March, the Federal Appeal Court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sentenced prominent Emirati economist and academic, Dr Nasser bin Ghaith to ten years in prison.
He was convicted on various charges including “insulting the UAE”. He is a prisoner of
On 29 March, the Federal Appeal Court in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, sentenced human rights defender Dr Nasser bin Ghaith to ten years’ imprisonment. He had been tried and convicted on charges including “posting false information” about UAE leaders and their policies, based on comments he made on Twitter stating that he had not been given a fair trial in a case including four other Emiratis known as the “UAE 5” case.
Dr Nasser bin Ghaith has also been convicted of “communicating and co-operating with members of the banned alIslah organization”, in connection with meetings he had with individuals allegedly linked to the organization.
Dr Nasser bin Ghaith was not able to prepare an effective defence as the Emirati authorities had restricted his access to his lawyer. Dr Nasser bin Ghaith's lawyer was unable to be present for the verdict since the court had even changed the order of the cases to be examined, making his first of the day.
Dr Nasser bin Ghaith has the right to appeal his sentence before the Federal Supreme Court. He is currently held at the remote high security al-Razeen prison in Abu Dhabi.
Arab Emirates (UAE): Prominent academic jailed for 10 years over tweets in outrageous blow to freedom of expression.
In 2011, Dr Nasser bin Ghaith and four Emiratis (in a case known as the “UAE 5”) were unfairly tried for statements made online” calling for economic, political and social reforms in the UAE. They were convicted of “publicly insulting” the UAE’s President, Vice-President and Crown Prince. Dr Nasser bin Ghaith was sentenced to two years in prison. Following an international outcry, the UAE President pardoned them and they were released.
On 18 August 2015, Dr Nasser bin Ghaith was subjected to enforced disappearance after he was arrested by UAE State
Security at his place of work. On 4 April 2016, he was seen for the first time since his disappearance, when he was brought before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court for his first trial. On this occasion, as well as during his second hearing on 2 May 2016, Dr Nasser bin Ghaith told the court that he had been kept in secret detention and subjected to beatings and deliberate sleep deprivation for nearly eight months. The judge dismissed his claims and refused to order an independent investigation into his allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
In addition to the charges listed above, Dr Nasser bin Ghaith has also been charged with: “committing a hostile act against a foreign state”, in relation to comments he made on Twitter criticizing the government of Egypt; “offensively criticizing the construction of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi and inciting UAE citizens against their leaders and government”, in reference to a tweet which he told the court had been misinterpreted and had been intended to promote tolerance.
Amnesty International has documented allegations of ill treatment and torture at the high security al-Razeen Prison, situated in the middle of the Abu Dhabi desert and effectively under the control of the State Security. On 11 November 2015, Dr Mohammed al-Roken was awoken in his cell at al-Razeen prison by blaring music. In August 2013, 18 prisoners went on hunger strike in protest at their treatment by the prison authorities, including beatings by prison guards, restrictions on family visits, and being kept in darkness. Between 21 and 28 August, three of them collapsed after the prison authorities had deliberately turned off air-conditioning when the weather was hot. At least 10 prisoners of conscience were ill-treated in alRazeen Prison in June 2014.
Prisoners and their families have said that the political prisoners in al-Razeen Prison are specifically discriminated against. The prisoners have complained to the authorities about their conditions, as their families, but with no discernible results. On 25
March 2014, the families of prisoners held at al-Razeen Prison addressed a joint letter to Abu Dhabi’s Attorney General, asking that he investigates alleged abuses against the prisoners. However, they received no response. Likewise, the Minister of Interior did not respond to a letter, dated August 2013, calling his attention to the alleged ill-treatment of the prisoners.