UAE man jailed 10 months for tweeting on father’s trial

DUBAI, (Reuters) – A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced a man to 10 months in jail yesterday after he tweeted details of the trial of his father and 93 other people accused of plotting to seize power in the Gulf Arab state, an Emirati activist said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last week that Abdulla al-Hadidi was arrested on March 21 on charges of publishing “in bad faith” false details of a public trial session on the Internet.

The day before the arrest, officials from the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi had informed Hadidi and several other relatives of the defendants family members would no longer be allowed to attend the trial, HRW said.

Rights groups urged UAE authorities to grant full public access to the trial. A source close to the UAE government has said the trial was taking place in a “very transparent manner”.

UAE newspapers have said the defendants belong to al-Islah, a local Islamist group which says it wants peaceful reform.

Emirati activist Ahmed Mansoor said the Abu Dhabi court found Hadidi guilty of publishing on Twitter “with bad intent” what happened at the hearing. But the court acquitted him of using force and violence with public officials during the trial.

Mansoor, who said he had spoken to one of the lawyers involved in the case, told Reuters Hadidi’s attorney would appeal the sentence.

A source close to the UAE government said it “is not our practice to comment on court deliberations and rulings”.

The state news agency WAM in January quoted the attorney general, Salem Saeed Kubaish, as saying that members of the group had sought to penetrate institutions of the state, including schools, universities and ministries.

The defendants are accused of “belonging to an illegal, secret organisation … that aims to counter the foundations of this state in order to seize power and of contacting foreign entities and groups to implement this plan,” WAM said.

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