Waleed al-Shehhi, an activist from the United Arab Emirates, was today sentenced to two years in prison and fined 500,000 Dirhams (£84,500) for tweeting about the trial of a group of human rights defenders known as the “UEA 94”.
The 94 activists, many of which were arrested in September 2012, were charged in January for “seeking to seize power.” Al-Shehhi tweeted about the authorities failure to investigate alleged torture against political prisoners, and called for the release of activists he believed had been detained for taking part in the pro-democracy movement.
Al-Shehhi, who was arrested on 11 May 2012, was sentenced on Articles 28 and 29 of the Cybercrimes Decree. This bans the use of information technology to “endanger state security” and “harm the reputation of the state.”
“Authorities are using the veil of national security to target peaceful political activists and it is having a chilling effect on free speech in the country,” Rori Donaghy, Director of the Emirates Centre for Human Rights said in a statement.