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Campaigners in London condemn 10 year sentence for Human Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor

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Campaigners in London condemn 10 year sentence for Human Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor

Campaigners gathered in central London yesterday to condemn the sentencing of prominent Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor. The action, which was organised by the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), was called in response to Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Court sentencing the award-winning Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor to 10 years in jail for “defaming the UAE through social media channels.”

He was also fined 1m Dirhams (£204, 327) for insulting the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols', including its leaders, according to the UAE state-owned publication The National.

Ahmed Mansoor was arrested in March of last year after falling foul of the UAE’s cybercrime laws. He went on to be held for a year without charge in an unverified location without access to a lawyer and was only permitted 2 short, supervised family visits.

In the weeks leading up to his arrest, he had been using social media to call for the release of Emirati prisoner of conscience Osama al-Najjar, who remains in prison despite completing his sentence in March 2017. Al-Najjar himself was convicted in line with the cybercrime law after tweeting about human rights abuses in the UAE.

Ahmed Mansoor is one of the worlds most prominent human rights defenders. Over the years he has worked extensively with international rights organisations to raise awareness to human rights abuses in the UAE. In this capacity, he is a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and has a seat on the on the advisory committee at Human Rights Watch. In 2015, he won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

Social Media Campaigner CiLuna, who was at yesterday’s action, expressed her dismay at the harsh sentence.

She said, “I don’t know Ahmed Mansoor personally, but I have been following him on Twitter for quite some time. I was shocked when I heard about his arrest in March 2017 and decided immediately that I wanted to campaign for his release. I have been tweeting about him very frequently, organised Tweet storms and wrote several posts in my blog.

It is horrible that he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and my thoughts are with him and his family. What a terrible situation for all of them. I am devastated about this news. It is such a harsh sentence and he did nothing which could justify a single day in prison. I am also really worried because there is so little information about his whereabouts and his wellbeing.

I will continue to campaign for him online (alone and in coordinated ways) and also offline - as long as it takes.”

In the strongest possible terms, ICFUAE condemn the UAE's court ruling, which is clear breach of international law. Ahmed Mansoor has been imprisoned solely on the basis of exercising his basic rights to freedom of speech and expression. In reality, all that Ahmed is guilty of is raising awareness of the systematic human rights violations in his country. We urgently reiterate our calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Pending this, however, we call on the UAE authorities to immediately reveal Mansoor's detention location; ensure that he is protected from torture and other forms of mistreatment and is treated in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners; and allow UN experts, or international NGOs access to visit him in prison.

- For comments, interviews or further statements, please contact the ICFUAE team at campaigns@icfuae.org.uk or +44 7979 6666 98

- For more information on the ruling, please see https://www.thenational.ae/uae/courts/emirati-convicted-for-second-time-of-insulting-country-and-leaders-1.73552

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