United Arab Emirates: Update: UAE – Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith remains in jail without proper access to his lawyer and family following second hearing

09.05.16

On 02 May 2016, a second hearing took place in the case of human rights defender and Professor of Economics Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, who remains in detention in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with no access to his lawyer or family. 

At the hearing he was charged with a number of trumped up offences relating to his on-line postings. These included allegedly “committing a hostile act against a foreign state” in reference to Tweets he made about the authorities and judicial system in Egypt. He was also charged with “posting false information in order to harm the reputation and stature of the state and one of its institutions” relating to a Tweet he made claiming that he had not been granted a fair trial as part of the UAE05 case. This trial has been described as unfair and in breach of international human rights law on many occasions including by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

A further charge brought against him of  “posting false information about UAE leaders and their policies, offensively criticizing the construction of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, and instigating the people of the UAE against their leaders and government” was related to a misinterpreted tweet.

Dr. Bin Ghaith was also accused of “communicating and cooperating with members of the banned Al Islah organization” referring to visits and meetings with members of the UAE94; and was accused of communicating and cooperating with the banned Emirates Ummah Party, based on a presentation he was invited to make on the Islamic Economy by a member of the Ummah party, in his capacity as Professor of Economics.

During the hearing on 02 May, Dr. Bin Ghaith stated that he is still being held in secret detention, a fact he brought to the judge’s attention during his hearing on 04 April. The judge again reacted with intolerance. Neither his family nor lawyer know where he is being detained and despite the lawyer’s request to meet his client four times he has been denied such a meeting. 

The court ordered the case to be adjourned until 23 May when the defence’s arguments will be heard.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) view Dr. Bin Ghaith’s arrest, detention and the baseless charges brought against him as a direct result of the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and opinion, and an attempt by authorities to hinder the work of human rights defenders in the UAE. For further information on Dr. Bin Ghaith’s arrest and detention, see GCHR’s appeal dated 26 April 2016 https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1243

The GCHR repeats its call on the UAE authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and drop all charges against him.