PEN International © 2017
Terms & Conditions | Privacy Statement

United Arab Emirates (UAE): Internet writers released

Friday 2 December 2011 - 12:00am

RAN 44/11 Update # 1, 2 December 2011

PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) welcomes the release of Internet writers Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser Bin Gheith on 28 November 2011 under a presidential pardon. They were freed a day after they had been convicted and sentenced to three and two years in prison respectively for calling for political reform. Although free, the convictions were not cancelled leaving them vulnerable to harassment and restrictions. PEN International continues to call for the removal of the writers’ convictions and for a full investigation into allegations of an ongoing state-sponsored campaign of intimidation against them. It reminds the UAE of its commitment to respect freedom of expression in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the UAE is a signatory.

Well known blogger and rights activist Ahmed Mansoor and internet writer and economic analyst Nasser Bin Gheith were arrested from their homes on 8 and 10 April 2011 respectively, after signing a petition calling for democratic and economic reforms in the United Arab Emirates. There were allegations of ill-treatment against Mansoor while he was in detention. Both writers are among five activists who on 27 November 2011 were given sentences ranging from two to three years in prison on charges including ‘insulting the country's leadership’ and ‘undermining national security’. Human rights organisations have stated that the trial against the five activists failed to comply with the principles of fair trial under international law. Furthermore, it is reported that the activists and their families have been the targets of a vicious smear campaign of threats, slander, and intimidation that authorities have failed to investigate or prosecute.

On 28 November 2011 the UAE President commuted the sentences, although according to the men’s defense lawyer commutation of the sentences may still leave the activists with a criminal record, which will make it difficult for them to find work and travel.

After his release from prison, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP) on 29 November 2011, Ahmed Mansoor said:

“They did everything to make me a criminal, but I consider fighting for human rights and free speech as part of my patriotic duty,”

Prior to his arrest, Mansoor had been reportedly harassed and threatened following an online smear campaign against him.

Useful links:
For more background on the trial, see IFEX joint action:
http://www.ifex.org/united_arab_emirates/2011/11/30/expunge_convictions/

Associated Press (AP)’s article published by The Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/free-and-defiant-pardoned-uae-activists-vow-to-press-on-with-democracy-campaign/2011/11/29/gIQAu9F78N_story.html

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Please send appeals to the United Arab Emirate’s authorities:

Calling for the quashing of the convictions against Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser Bin Gheith, and a full investigation into allegations of a campaign of intimidation against the men;
Reminding the UAE of their commitment to respect freedom of expression in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the UAE is a signatory.

APPEALS TO:

Vice-President and Prime Minister
Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Co-Chair of the Higher National Security Council,
Office of the Prime Minister
POB 2838, Dubai, UAE
Fax: +971 4 3531974; Email through Web:http://www.uaepm.ae/en/communicate/index.html
Salutation: Your Highness

Minister of Interior
Lt-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Minister of Interior
Human Rights Directorate
POB: 398, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Fax: +971 4 3981119
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahya
POB 1, Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 4447766
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for United Arab Emirates in your country if possible.

***Please contact this office if sending appeals after 31 January 2012***

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: Cathy.McCann@pen-international.org