UAE Imprisons Florida Man Over A Facebook Post He Made In The U.S.

When will people realize the immense power of social media?

ryan pate charged in UAE over Facebook

A Florida man is facing some serious consequences for insulting his Arab employer via a Facebook post made way back in January.

Ryan Pate, a helicopter mechanic from Pinellas County, was back home in Florida when he criticized the UAE-based company and wrote crude, derogatory remarks toward his employers on the social media site. He was reportedly frustrated with the company over rumors of his salary being frozen. He had also called Arabs “filthy” during his online rant.

Pate went back to the UAE last month to work out his employment issues and that’s when the Abu Dhabi police took him into custody.

“I didn’t know why and they wouldn’t tell me,” said Pate.

As it turns out, his Facebook post hadn’t gone unnoticed. The company had filed a report against Pate, accusing him of violating an Emerati cybercrimes law by slandering his employer.

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The 30-year-old was soon released on a bail but faces a trial on March 17. If proven guilty, he could face up to five years in prison and a hefty fine of $50,000.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who represents Pate’s home district, has sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry and the Emirati Attorney General Ali Mohammed Abdullah Al Bloushi, calling for the company to drop charges against Pate.

He considers the messages "very offensive," but since Pate posted them from the United States, he is therefore protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile Pate’s fiancée, Jillian Cardoza, has set up an online account to help pay legal fees and has so far received $15,000 of the $45,000 goal.

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