Two Years On: Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith must be released
On the two-year anniversary of his grossly unjust conviction, ICFUAE urges the Emirati authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith.
Nasser bin Ghaith is a distinguished economist and academic. Before his arrest, he was a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of the Paris Sorbonne University.
Two years ago today, on 29 March 2017, a UAE court sentenced him to 10 years in prison after finding him guilty of posting material online “intended to harm the reputation and stature of the state.” The evidence for this rested on a series of Tweets in which bin Ghaith had criticised the human rights record of both the Emirati and Egyptian authorities.
Prior to his conviction, he had been subjected to an enforced disappearance, where he was held for almost a year without charge and denied access to a lawyer. During this period, he alleges that he was tortured by security officials. But despite repeated requests to do so, the Emirati authorities have so far refused to open an investigation into these claims.
In protest over his conviction, in April 2017, bin Ghaith went on hunger strike for over 40 days, demanding his immediate release. The UAE authorities responded to this by transferring him to Abu Dhabi’s al-Razeen prison, a maximum-security facility that holds predominantly government critics. Notorious for its repressive conditions, inmates regularly report instances of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of warders.
Since being detained at al-Razeen, the authorities have reportedly subjected bin Ghaith to all-manners of mistreatment including: beatings, solitary confinement, the suspension of family visitation rights and denial of access to adequate medical care.
In response, bin Ghaith has since engaged in two further (liquid only) hunger strikes: for 80 days in February 2018, and most recently for around three months at the end of last year. The authorities responded to these by reportedly subjecting bin Ghaith to beatings and death threats. As a result of the hunger strikes and mistreatment, his health is said to have deteriorated rapidly - despite this, the authorities continue to deny him access to adequate medical care.
On the two-year anniversary of his conviction, ICFUAE continue to stand in complete solidarity with Nasser bin Ghaith and renew our calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Pending this, however, 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 inmates, such as access to adequate medical care. The UAE authorities must also allow UN bodies access to al-Razeen prison to inspect conditions - a request the government have denied on numerous occasions.