Rights groups call for the immediate release of Jordanian journalist
The United Arab Emirates must immediately release Tayseer al-Najjar, a Jordanian journalist who, on December 13, 2018, completed a three-year prison sentence, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders said in a letter to the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, that was released today.
The prison sentence violated al-Najjar’s rights to free expression and to a fair trial, the joined letter reads.
The UAE Federal Supreme Court convicted al-Najjar under article 29 of the UAE cybercrime law in March 2017 and sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of 500,000 UAE Dirhams (US$136,000) for “insulting the state’s symbols.”
While al-Najjar completed his sentence on December 13, after three years behind bars, he cannot pay the substantial fine and under UAE law must remain in prison another six months.
“Al-Najjar, who should not have been jailed in the first place, should not have to suffer another day in a UAE prison,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “If the UAE were truly committed to its rhetoric of tolerance, it would not have ripped Najjar away from his wife and children for years-old innocuous Facebook posts.”
Al-Najjar’s conviction was based on Facebook posts written before he moved to the UAE to work as a culture reporter for Dar newspaper in April 2015.