05/31/2018, 09.36
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Emirates sentence dissident leader Ahmed Mansoor to 10 years in prison

He will also have to pay a fine of 235 thousand euros and spend another three years on probation. His online posts undermine "the status and prestige" of the country and "its symbols". The international press banned from attending trial. The accusation of "conspiracy" with a "terrorist organization" dropped.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sentenced Ahmed Mansoor, one of the most famous internal opposition leaders to 10 years in prison and fine of 235 euro. The human rights defender and well-known blogger  was arrested in March of last year in his home in 'Ajman for having criticized the leadership in power and clouded the image of the country through a series of posts published on the internet and social networks.

The judges who imposed the sentence also determined that he will have to spend three years on probation after leaving prison. Two local newspapers, The National and Gulf News, reported the sentencing, because the international press could not attend the trial, confirming an increase in censorship and a growing iron fist by the royal families towards critical voices.

According to the ruling, the 48-year-old dissident leader was convicted of undermining "the status and prestige" of the Emirates "and its symbols". He also harmed relations between Abu Dhabi and the Gulf area nations. The court, on the other hand, dropped charges of "conspiracy" with an unspecified "terrorist organization".

His arrest had raised a wave of indignation and international protests. To justify the arrest, the prosecutor in charge of the fight against cybercrime has accused Mansoor of using the network to "publish false information" and spread "tendentious ideas to sow sedition and sectarianism" and "attempt at national unity".

Ahmed Mansoor was the only independent voice, not yet in prison, to speak through his blog and Twitter account of human rights violations within the country. He suffered repeated death threats, intimidation and harassment by the UAE authorities and its supporters. His computer, phone, email and Twitter account have all been repeatedly hacked.

In 2011, when he was sentenced to three years in prison for "offenses to public officials" in the context of the revolts that broke out during the Arab Spring, he was attacked and threatened with death by government supporters. In 2015 he won the prestigious Martin Ennals prize for human rights defenders.

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