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Twitter user sentenced to two years in UAE

February 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

A court in the UAE has jailed a social media user for two years for publicly criticising a recent political trial on Twitter, activists announced on Tuesday.

The activists identified the Twitter user as Waleed Al-Shehi and added that he was also fined 500 UAE dirham ($136,000).

One of the activists, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained that Al-Shehi tweeted about the trial that took place last May against 94 people who were accused of plotting regime change in the UAE. Al-Shehi had called for an immediate release of the detainees, who were merely calling for democratic reforms.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the court sentence against Al-Shehi, as well as the sentence against a Kuwaiti social media user who was given five years for blasphemy charges.

“The UAE wanted to use the Al-Shehi case as a deterrent to warn all other social media users in the country against publishing any piece of information about the latest trial,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

In July 2012, the UAE arrested 94 people, including 61 Islamists, accusing them of attempting to change the regime. Among these, 30 UAE citizens and Egyptians were charged with setting up a local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country.

Activists said that the trials of the two social media users in the UAE and Kuwait showed the degree of sensitivity when it comes to criticising political or state officials.

Earlier this year, Kuwait sentenced a male social media user to five years and a female user to 11 years for insulting the Emir on Twitter. The latter was also charged with calling for changing the regime and insulting a religious sect.