Ahmed Mansoor and four other pro-democracy activists pardoned and freed
October 24, 2011 A verdict will not be issued until 27 November in the trial of the blogger Ahmed Mansoor and four other pro-democracy activists, a judge announced at yesterday’s hearing, which is to be the last in the trial before the verdict is handed down. The five activists, who were arrested in April, are to remain in detention until then. Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti, one of the defence lawyers, told Agence France-Presse yesterday he was optimistic about the outcome because no concrete evidence has been produced to support the charges of threatening state security, disturbing public order and insulting the vice president and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince. Reporters Without Borders condemns the way the trial is being dragged out in order to keep the defendants in prison, and urges the judicial authorities to free them without delay and dismiss all the charges. Mansoor and the four other activists – Farhad Salem, Nasser bin Ghaith, Hassan Ali Al-Khamis and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq – refused to appear in court yesterday. It was the third hearing they have boycotted to protest against their mistreatment in detention and to signal their rejection of a trial they regard as political. The trial opened on 14 June and has been repeatedly adjourned ever since. The United Arab Emirates is listed as a “country under surveillance” in the Reporters Without Borders “Enemies of the Internet” report. ------------------ Mansoor and four other activists refuse to appear in court
4 October 2011 The blogger Ahmed Mansoor and four other pro-democracy activists refused to appear in court during the latest hearing in their trial on 2 October in protest against its political nature. The hearing was the first one that journalists and human rights organizations were allowed to attend. Reporters Without Borders condemns the unfairness of the trial, which keeps on being adjourned in order to keep the defendants in detention, reiterates its call for the release of Mansoor and all other prisoners of conscience and urges the authorities to drop all the charges in this case. The next hearing has been set for 9 October. ---------------- After another hearing, detained blogger’s trial adjourned again
September 23rd, 2011 Another hearing was held in the trial of the blogger Ahmed Mansoor and four other activists before the federal supreme court in Abu Dhabi on 26 September and, like the previous hearings, it was held behind closed doors. The five defendants, who are pleading not guilty, complained of harassment and attacks in prison. They also requested that the trial be open to the public and that they should be allowed access to the prosecution case file. These requests were denied. After hearing testimony from three witnesses, the court adjourned until 2 October, when Telecommunication Regulatory Authority director-general Mohamed Nasser Al-Ghanim will testify and the prosecution will present its closing arguments. Reporters Without Borders condemns the repeated adjournments as they allow the authorities to continuing detaining the defendants, who have already been held for more than six months. The press freedom organization calls for their immediate and unconditional release. ----------------------- Blogger to appear in court next week
July 13th, 2011 The trial of Ahmed Mansoor, a blogger and human rights activist who has been held since April, is due to resume in Abu Dhabi on 18 July. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to drop the charges against this netizen and release him without delay. More than 10 police officers took part in Mansoor’s arrest in April, seizing two laptops and several documents. His arrest, after signing a petition calling for democratic reforms in the United Arab Emirates, followed several weeks during which he was the target of intimidation attempts and a smear campaign, especially on the social networks Facebook and Twitter. Mansoor was also pressured by his employer, a telecommunications company that suddenly decided to relocate to Pakistan in a move which, according to Mansoor’s blog, was motivated by political interests. Four other pro-democracy activists are being tried with Mansoor. They are Farhad Salem, Nasser bin Ghaith, Hassan Ali Al-Khamis and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq. They are all charged with threatening state security, undermining public order and insulting the president, the vice president and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. They pleaded not-guilty when the first hearing was held on 14 June, just hours after the judge scheduled to preside the case was replaced. During the hearing, a pro-government demonstration took place outside, with members of the crowd chanting death threats against the defendants. The trial would be adjourned again at next week’s hearing as the prosecution wants to bring new “witnesses” whose identity has not yet been revealed to the defence. Reporters Without Borders has learned that Mansoor is meanwhile suffering from a severe allergy but has been denied access to a dermatologist, despite repeated requests. He seems to be the collateral victim of the increase in security measures and repression that Arab governments have adopted up in recent months because of the spread of protests. More arrests are taking place, online filtering and surveillance of Internet users have been stepped up and the authorities are still trying to get access to the BlackBerry smartphone’s encrypted communications – all disturbing signs in this troubled region. The United Arab Emirates is listed as a “country under surveillance” in the “Enemies of the Internet” report that Reporters Without Borders released on 12 March.