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The New Arab

Journalist 'forcibly disappeared' in UAE will be released soon

Human rights groups have slammed Najjar's arrest [TNA]

Date of publication: 19 February, 2016

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After two months of being held incommunicado in the UAE, Jordanian journalist Tayseer al-Najjar has made contact with his family and said he will be set free soon.

A Jordanian journalist that has been held incommunicado by security forces in the United Arab Emirates for over two months has told his wife that he will soon be released.

In the first contact with his family since Tayseer al-Najjar, 42, was summoned to a police station for questioning, the imprisoned journalist said that police would soon let him go.

"Tayseer phoned me and told me he was in good health and promised me he would be released soon," Najjar's wife Majda al-Horane told The New Arab.

"He didn't say where he was being held or the charges against him," she added.

In December, Najjar was prevented from travelling to Jordan by security forces in Abu Dhabi, where the journalist works.

Ten days later, he was detained.

Najjar, a former columnist for Jordan's al-Dustour newspaper, moved to the UAE to work for the government-affiliated centre Aljewa for Culture and Media in April 2015.

Human rights groups have slammed the UAE for the "forced disappearance" of the Jordanian culture reporter.

"Najjar's case bears all the marks of the UAE's shameful practice of forced disappearances and incommunicado detentions," said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East director.

"We don't know why Najjar is missing but we know that he was last seen in police headquarters of a country with zero tolerance for free speech," Stork added.

Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists said: "It is outrageous that Abu Dhabi authorities can hold a Jordanian journalist for months without trial, charge, access to a lawyer or communication with his family".

This is not the first case in which the authorities in the UAE have resorted to "disappearing" someone.

Most notable is the case of Emirati academic Nasser bin Ghaith, who was detained in August last year and remains to this day held in a secret prison.

UAE authorities have not reported the reason he was taken, the nature of the charges against him, nor have they allowed anyone to get in touch with him.

Bin Ghaith's case prompted Amnesty International to voice its concerns last year.

"We fear that Dr Nasser bin Ghaith is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of the country's state security body," the human rights group said.

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