Gulf Bloggers Sentenced to Prison
Yesterday, the Federal Supreme Court of United Arab Emirates, UAE, acting as the “State Security Court,” has sentenced five bloggers to prison. Emirati blogger, Ahmed Mansour received the harshest of the sentence, by three years. The other four bloggers were give two years sentence each.
Ahmed was charged in April earlier this year with a very popular “crime” among the tyrannies that crack down on difference of opinion: “insult.” In this case, insulting the U.A.E.’s leadership; specifically, the Vice President of the Abu Dhabi.
Mansoor is a prominent blogger in the Arab location. He is also a communication engineer and a published poet. One of his publishers is the Abu-Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage. Mansoor was the administrator and the creator of the Web forum “Hiwar” (which means Dialogue in Arabic), which the court ordered to be shut down. Meanwhile, Mansoor’s fellow defendants were active on the site.
The other bloggers that were sentenced, according to the Agence France Presse list are Nasser bin Gaith, a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of the Sorbonne University, activists Hassan Ali Khamis, Fahid Salim Dalk and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq. They were also convicted for insulting the leadership of the country, as well as “calling for a boycott of September’s Federal National Council elections and… anti-government demonstrations.”
The trial all together took five months, according to Reuters.
However, the international human rights groups has condemned the outcome of the case by the kangaroo court. Among other things, the “crime” of insult is not recognized as such by most countries. The sentences are clearly too large (precedent for the law they were convicted under treated the crimes as misdemeanours) and used by a frightened oligarchy who fear their loss of privilege, despite the country being only lightly touched by the Arab Spring that has swept through the region.
Supporters have gone Twitter to register their opinions on this issue of “U.A.E. 5,” as they are called, with the hashtag #uae5.