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UAE sentences disabled Omani man to life imprisonment over alleged Qatar links

Abdullah Al-Shamsi was arrested when he was 17 years old [Twitter]

Date of publication: 8 May, 2020

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A disabled 21-year-old Omani man who was arrested as a teenager was sentenced to life imprisonment in the UAE over alleged links to Qatar.
The UAE has sentenced a disabled Omani man to life imprisonment on Wednesday over his alleged links to Qatar, several years after he was arrested as a teenager, the Arabic news website Arabi 21 reported.

According to Omani media, Abdullah Al-Shamsi was arrested after an Emirati newspaper alleged in July 2017 that he had cooperated with Qataris to traffic drugss.

Months later, Al-Shamsi, then 17 years old, was arrested at his relatives' home in the Emirati city of Al Ain, on the border with Oman, and taken to an unknown location. His family did not know he was detained by state security forces until a month after his arrest, according to Arabi21.

Al-Shamsi, now 21, was handed a life sentence by the UAE's Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi.

Omani activists said Al-Shamsi was accused of establishing a spy cell on behalf of Qatar, a charge he denied in court.

A Twitter account attributed to Al-Shamsi's Emirati mother has been campaigning for the young man's release and pleading with Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq for help.

According to the Twitter account, Al-Shamsi is mentally ill and suffers from physical ailments, including a disease that weakens his immune system.

"With the outbreak of the [coronavirus], I fear my son will be affected, God forbid, as I cannot be sure of it or communicate with him," read a tweet.

On Wednesday, the account posted a video showing Al-Shamsi's mother tearfully announcing her son's life sentence.

Neither Emirati or Omani officials released public statements on the matter.

Omani activists have expressed anger at Al-Shamsi's sentencing on social media.

In March 2019, Oman began trying a number of Emirati officers, as well as two Omani citizens, on charges of espionage, according to Arabi21.

In 2011, Muscat said it had uncovered an Emirati spy network that targeted its government and military.

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