'Tortured' Qataris begin legal action over UAE 'forced confessions'

'Tortured' Qataris begin legal action over UAE 'forced confessions' broadcast
2 min read
27 May, 2021
The complainants allege Abu Dhabi Channel displayed "private information" when it showed what they claim were forced confessions, depicted as if willing interviews.
The complainants have begun legal action against Abu Dhabi Media Company [Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty-file photo]

Legal action has been initiated against an Abu Dhabi state media firm by two Qatari nationals over the broadcast of what they say were "forced confessions".

Dr Mahmoud Abdul Rahman Al-Jaidah and Hamad Mohammed Ali Al-Hammadi are claiming damages against the Abu Dhabi Media Company following the UK broadcast of interviews of both via the state-funded Abu Dhabi Channel.

They accuse the channel of displaying "private information" in June 2017 when it broadcast, what the plaintiffs claim, were forced confessions.

They say these were portrayed as if the men were willing participants in the interviews.

According to complaints submitted to Ofcom, the UK's broadcasting regulator, Al-Jaidah and Al-Hammadi were arrested in February 2013 and June 2014 respectively.

They both claim they were tortured during their detentions.

For a 2017 article, Al-Jaidah told The New Arab: "They blindfolded and tortured me.

"I was put into questioning and they started to interrogate me with various questions about Qatar and its foreign policy."

For the same piece, Al-Hammadi claimed he was not provided healthcare: "They took my blood, knowing I have kidney disease.

"I was denied all medical treatment and was completely locked out of the world."

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They both say they were forced to give recorded confessions to crimes they deny committing.

The forced confession of Al-Hammadi was used to give him a ten-year prison sentence on 18 May 2015 for "insulting UAE officials and symbols", according to his Ofcom complaint.

Al-Jaidah's forced confession led to a 2014 conviction for "helping and funding an illegal secret organisation", his complaint said.

According to the BBC, he received seven years in relation to alleged links to the Al-Islah group, which Abu Dhabi claims is a Muslim Brotherhood "cell".

Both were set free on 22 May 2015 under a deal reached by the Qatari and Emirati governments, their Ofcom complaints said.

Three-year Qatar blockade
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They sent the Abu Dhabi Media Company formal letters of claim on Tuesday, according to a press release, beginning the legal process.

According to Forbes, the organisation has a 21-day window to provide a first response.

This comes after Ofcom, the UK's broadcasting regulator, found in favour of the claimants in their privacy and fairness complaints.

It said the violations were "serious" in both cases.

Ofcom fined the Abu Dhabi Channel a total of £250,000 earlier this month – £125,000 in separate fines for each complaint.

Abu Dhabi Media Company "surrendered" its Abu Dhabi Channel UK broadcasting licence from 1 January this year.

The New Arab contacted Abu Dhabi Media Company, but it did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.