After reportedly being held in detention for over a year and denied a right to attorney before his trial, authorities in the United Arab Emirates sentenced prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor to 10 years in prison. The 48-year-old has also been fined about $272,000 and would have to serve a three year probation period following his release.
His crime: using social media to contact international human rights group and provide information on the injustices being carried out in the Middle Eastern country.
According to the Abu Dhabi court, Mansoor has been convicted for using Twitter and Facebook to “publish false information and rumors, spread tendentious ideas that would sow sedition, sectarianism and hatred and harm national unity and social peace, as well as harming the state's reputation and inciting disobedience.”
Mansoor has been accused of insulting the “status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols” including its leaders, promoting “sectarian feelings” and encouraging his followers to disregard the country’s laws. However, the court acquitted him of conspiring with a “terrorist organization,” reported an Abu Dhabi-based English newspaper.
His phones and other electronic devices were also seized by the law enforcement agencies.
It is important to mention Mansoor won the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders for his activism back in 2015, where he was described as “one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the country.”
He has also reportedly been a part of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Middle East and the North Africa Advisory Committee.
“Today’s sentence of Ahmed Mansoor exposes just how weak and brittle the UAE government really is, unable to tolerate the mildest of criticisms from a genuine reformer who deeply loves his fellow Emiratis,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division at the HRW told Newsweek. “A 10-year sentence for ‘defaming’ the UAE is all you need to know about the brutality and repression beneath the Emirates’ gilded façade.”
Earlier this year, the HRW demanded the UAE government to reveal Mansoor’s whereabouts following his arrest.
“Since his arrest, Mansoor has not been allowed to make telephone calls to his family and has been allowed only two short visits with his wife, on 3 April and 17 September 2017, both under strict supervision,” the organization said. “He was brought from an unknown place of detention to the State Security Prosecutor’s office in Abu Dhabi for both visits. The authorities have refused to inform his family about his place of detention and have ignored their requests for further visits.”
Mansoor is one of the five popular Middle Eastern activists, also known as the UAE Five, who received a three-year prison sentence in 2011 for allegedly “insulting” President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Nikhil Monteiro