UAE activist Ahmed Mansoor loses appeal against prison term
A high court in the UAE upheld Emirati rights activist Ahmed Mansoor's 10-year prison sentence for criticising the government, human rights groups said on Monday.
The Dubai-based Gulf News reported that Mansoor's sentencing, which also includes a $272,000 fine, was upheld by a branch of the Federal Supreme Court dealing with state security.
Mansoor was convicted of seeking to damage the UAE's reputation and relationship with neighbouring states by posting "false reports and information".
In March 2017, Mansoor was arrested when security forces raided his home in the emirate of Ajman, confiscating computers and phones.
In the weeks leading up to his arrest, he had criticised the imprisonment of other activists in the UAE, including Nasser bin-Ghaith, an academic and economist who was sentenced to ten years after his criticism of Emirati and Egyptian authorities.
Human Rights Watch previously reported that Mansoor had also used Twitter to draw attention to rights violations committed by the Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen, of which the UAE is an active member.
Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf, said the decision to uphold his prison sentence "confirms there is no space for free expression in the United Arab Emirates". The verdict cannot be appealed, she said in a statement.
Prior to his imprisonment, Mansoor was an electrical engineer with a masters degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. He was the recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015.
He was described as one of the few voices within the UAE who regularly raised concerns on arbitrary detention, torture and issues related to the judiciary. He also wrote about stateless residents in the Gulf, known as the Bidoon.