ICFUAE stand in solidarity with Nasser bin Ghaith on the year anniversary of his detention, and call for his immediate release
This time last year, Nasser bin Ghaith was sentenced to 10-years in prison for Twitter comments. Over this period his health has deteriorated rapidly. As he endures his second hunger strike in a year, ICFUAE urgently call upon the Emirati authorities to release Nasser Bin Ghaith.
On 29 March 2017, an Emirati court sentenced Nasser bin Ghaith to 10 years in prison on charges relating to online criticism of the Emirati and the Egyptian regimes' human rights records. Amnesty International later described the ruling as a “devastating blow for freedom of expression in the UAE.”
Prior to his conviction, the prominent Emirati economist was subjected to an enforced disappearance and was held for over a year without charge or access to a lawyer; a period in which bin Ghaith alleges he was tortured by security officials. The UAE authorities refused to conduct an independent investigation into these claims.
Shortly following his sentencing, bin Ghaith smuggled a letter out of Abu Dhabi’s al-Sadar prison in which he announced an open-ended hunger strike until his demand of an immediate and unconditional release was met by authorities. He went on to endure almost 40 days without food or water.
In response to his strike, Emirati officials cut off all communication between bin Ghaith and the outside world. He was immediately transferred from al-Sadar prison to an unknown location. The UAE authorities refused to disclose his whereabouts for over six months.
It was later revealed that bin Ghaith had been moved to Al-Razeen prison. Lying in the desert around 100km outside of Abu Dhabi, Al-Razeen is home to scores of bloggers, human rights activists and government critics. Dubbed the Guantanamo of the UAE by rights activists, over the years it has become notorious for its degrading conditions and poor treatment of inmates.
One year into his sentence, the prominent Emirati economist is on hunger strike for a second time - this time against his ill-treatment at Al-Razeen prison. According to reports, bin Ghaith is regularly denied access to adequate medical treatment to treat his high blood pressure, held in a state of solitary confinement, and is routinely subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment by prison warders.
Bin Ghaith’s is not an isolated case. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of prisoner abuse at the facility. In May of last year, al-Razeen inmate Imran Radwan endured almost 60 days on hunger strike after he was subjected to beatings and sexual assault by prison warders.
ICFUAE stand in complete solidarity with Nasser bin Ghaith, as well as other prisoners of conscience in the UAE. Pending bin Ghaith’s release, we urgently call upon the Emirati authorities to adhere to the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which affords basic rights for prisoners such as access to adequate access to medical care, food and other amenities. As well as this, the UAE authorities must allow UN working bodies access to al-Razeen prison; a request which they have denied on numerous occasions.
On the one-year anniversary of his conviction, ICFUAE reiterates its call for Nasser bin Ghaith’s immediate and unconditional release. His continued detention serves no other purpose but to stifle freedom of speech and expression in the UAE.