Trial for UAE academic Naser Bin Ghaith due to resume on June 20
On Monday, June 20 the trial for UAE academic and human rights defender, Nasser Bin Ghaith, resumes. His defense will have the opportunity to present his case before the country’s Federal Supreme Court. Arrested in the UAE last August, Bin Ghaith remains in custody in an unknown location.
On August 18, 2015 Emirati officials arrested Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith at his work place and forcibly disappeared him without charge or trial. He reappeared eight months later on April 4, 2016 before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi. In the closed hearing, Bin Ghaith explained to the court how he had been held in a secret location, physically tortured, and beaten while in detention. The judge, apparently irritated with Bin Ghaith’s comments, responded by questioning his account and shutting off his microphone.
Dr Nasser bin Ghaith faces several charges including: “committing a hostile act against a foreign state” in relation to comments he made on Twitter criticising the Government of Egypt; “posting false information in order to harm the reputation and stature of the State and one of its institutions” based on comments he made on Twitter stating that he had not been given a fair trial in the “UAE 5” case; “posting false information” about UAE leaders and their policies; “offensively criticizing the construction of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi and inciting UAE citizens against their leaders and government” in reference to a Twitter posting that he told the court had been misinterpreted and had been intended to promote tolerance. Finally, he is charged with “communicating and cooperating with members of the banned al-Islah organization” because of meetings he had with individuals who were tried in the “UAE 94” case; and with “communicating and cooperating with the banned Emirates Ummah Party”.
The price for peaceful dissent in the UAE has reached a dangerous level. Under the vague and overreaching provisions of the Penal Code, cybercrime law, and the 2015 counterterror law, Bin Ghaith’s tweets can be considered “instigation against the UAE” in a way that “endangers state security.”