Democracy activist Dr Nasser bin Ghaith was arrested by the UAE authoirities in Abu Dhabi at 2pm on 18th August. Dr bin Ghaith, who works as an economist and academic, has not been heard from since his arrest. No further information has been released by the authorities in relation to his arrest or the location of his detention.
Dr Nasser bin Ghaith was one of the UAE 5, who were originally targeted by the Emirati authorities in 2011. Between April and November of that year the UAE 5 were held in detention, but were eventually pardoned and released. The UAE 5 were accused of having insulted the President. Bin Ghaith’s arrest in 2011 was for calling for democratic and economic reforms in the UAE, in the wake of the pro-democracy movement that was beginning to take shape in the UAE. The UAE 5 were recognised by Amnesty International as Prisoners of Conscience.
The current arrest and detention of Dr Nasser bin Ghaith is suspected to be due to his tweets about Egypt. There have been numerous cases of arrests and detentions as a result of social media use, prominent Emirati blogger, Osama al Najjar, was cited as one such case by the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges at the Human Rights Council in June 2015.
There is serious concern about the physical and psychological condition of Dr bin Ghaith. Human rights activists and NGOs are calling for his immediate release and protection from torture or ill treatment.