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Emirati netizen sentenced to 10 months in jail for tweeting

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounces the 10-month prison sentence handed down by the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance to Abdullah Al-Hadidi for tweeting details of the trial of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) 94 activists accused of plotting to overthrow the regime.

During the court hearing on 8 April 2013, Al-Hadidi was charged for tweeting with "bad intent" details of what happened during the public hearing of what has come to be unknown as the trial of the UAE94. Al-Hadidi was found innocent of a charge laid against him accusing him of using force and violence against two public officials, officers Rabiee Amziayan and Mustapha Fares.

Al-Hadidi, who happens to be one of the leading reporters on the case, was arrested on 22 March 2013. He disseminated news of the hearings via Twitter and was in constant communication with the Rights Observatory Committee and the families of the detainees. Since his arrest, which was based on article 1 and 64/1 of the new cybercrime law of 2012, the court has refused to release him on bail. He is the first Emirati citizen to be punished under this new and restrictive law.

"The sentence issued against Al-Hadidi counts as a politicization of the case, in order to punish him for conveying the details of the UAE94 hearings and for his cooperation with the Rights Observatory Committee, in addition to exposing some of the violations committed against the families of the detainees by the security services," stated ANHRI.

The organization added that punishing Al-Hadidi in accordance with the cybercrimes law despite the fact that the Emirati authorities alleged that it was a public hearing proves without a doubt the falsity of these allegations.

"How can a citizen be punished for disseminating information when that information is supposedly available for the public?" asked ANHRI rhetorically.

The organization demands that all charges pressed against Al-Hadidi be dropped and that he is immediately released and his safety ensured.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Ten months in jail for tweets, new threat to freedom of information

    The decision to convict Hadidi because of his tweets is indicative of the government’s desire to impose a news blackout on the trial of the 94 and its refusal to accept any form of public criticism of its policies. We call for Hadidi’s immediate release and for his conviction to be overturned.

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