Thursday, August 11, 2011

United Arab Emirates (UAE): Internet writers detained; fears for safety.

PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) is seriously concerned about the detention of Internet writers Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser Bin Gheith, who are facing charges for their dissident activities and writings. Mansoor has reportedly faced ill-treatment in prison, and there are serious concerns for his welfare. PEN International protests the detention of Ahmed Mansoor and Bin Gheith and calls for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the UAE is a signatory. It also seeks assurances that the men are protected from ill-treatment, and given full access to any necessary medical care whilst detained.

According to PEN's information, well known blogger and rights activist Ahmed Mansoor and internet writer and economic analyst Nasser Bin Gheith were arrested from their homes on 8 and 10 April 2011 respectively after signing a petition calling for democratic and economic reforms. They are among five activists to be facing charges of "insulting the head of the state", "stirring sectarian strife", and "destabilization" after they participated in the online pro-democracy forum Emirati Dialogue (Emirati Hiwar). Their trial started on 18 July 2011, and they pleaded not guilty to the charges at a closed hearing in Abu Dhabi. On 25 July 2011, the court adjourned the trial to 26 September 2011.

Mansoor is being held at Al-Wathba prison, in the city of Abu Dhabi, where he has reportedly been ill-treated and denied adequate health care by prison administration. He was initially held in solitary confinement and is now being held with convicted criminals, and is said to be at risk of attack.

Prior to his arrest, Mansoor had been reportedly harassed and threatened following an online smear campaign against him.

International PEN

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