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Activist released on bail, still facing charges

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 21 March 2012 - On 20 March, the Public Prosecution in Abu Dhabi, UAE, released the activist Saleh al-Dhafeery on bail. He had been arrested on 5 March on charges of sedition and harming national unity and social peace. ANHRI considers this release pending trial insufficient, and calls for the dismissal of the charges against him.

Al-Dhafeery, one of the founders of the Social Reform Organization, had been arrested by the security service in Dubai, and accused of state security crimes after criticizing the system and the UAE's security apparatus during an appearance on the Al Hewar channel. He faced arbitrary arrest from his home in Ras Al Khaimah and was imprisoned for 15 days prior to his release.

It is worth noting that al-Dhafeery is not the only activist being targeted by the Emirati authorities. Six activists who had called for political reforms are currently facing the possibility of having their nationality withdrawn on the pretext that they are "a danger to state security and safety". Another Emirati citizen faces accusations of libel and defamation due to his strong criticism of the Chief Commander of the Dubai Police, Dahi Khalfan, on Twitter. His trial is continuing. Moreover, a number of Syrian citizens were expelled from the UAE on charges of illegal demonstrations against Al-Assad's regime.

"The list of violations in the United Arab Emirates has become long, as activists and advocates calling for reform inside the UAE are being targeted. This is totally unacceptable," said ANHRI. "The peaceful expression of opinion should not be met with arrest and humiliation but should be result in a rational discussion in order to carve a larger space for freedoms that Emirati people deserve," ANHRI added. ANHRI calls upon the authorities to drop all charges against al-Dhafeery and all political detainees in UAE prisons. Moreover, the organisation also calls for freedom of opinion and expression to be respected in the UAE without exposing citizens to security and safety threats because of their opinions. ANHRI also demands the prevention of any judicial prosecution against activists as it is useless to attempt to silence reformist voices in the the time of the Arab Spring.

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