Jordanian Journalist Convicted for Criticism of UAE Government and Its Allies
Jordanian journalist Tayseer Al-Najjar was sentenced Wednesday to 3 years in prison and consequent deportation by the Federal Appeal Court in the UAE. He was charged with damaging the reputation of the state by publishing comments on social media that criticised the UAE's foreign policy and other Gulf countries.
Al-Najjar was first held on December 3, 2015 as he was travelling to Jordan. On December 13, he was forcibly disappeared after reporting to the Security Department and was held in secret location until 18 February 2016 when he was allowed his first call home. Although he appeared at his first hearing on 18 January 2016, he was denied access to a lawyer and was held in arbitrary detention for more than a year.
On Wednesday, the Security Chamber of the Federal Appeal Court in Abu Dhabi sentenced Tayseer Al-Najjar to 3 years in prison and a fine of AED 500,000 (around GBP £111,000), followed by deportation at the end of his jail term. The court has also ordered the confiscation of his electronical devices and closures of his social media accounts "for insulting the state's symbols". UAE laws criminalise the criticism of the UAE state, its rulers or its allies.
The sentence comes under a growing repression of critical voices by the UAE authorities, who in the last year alone have arrested 300 people for their Facebook or Twitter posts.