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UAE activist sentenced to 10 years for online posts

Online censorship is rife in the UAE. [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 May, 2018

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Leading Emirati rights activist Ahmed Mansoor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined one million dirhams by an appeals court in Abu Dhabi.

Leading Emirati rights activist Ahmed Mansoor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined one million dirhams ($272,000) by an appeals court in Abu Dhabi.

The Dubai-based Gulf News reported on Wednesday that the defendant, identified as "AMS" by his initials, will also be under probation for three years after prison.

Gulf News says Mansoor, who had a court-appointed lawyer, was convicted on Tuesday of defaming the United Arab Emirates on Twitter and Facebook by "publishing false information, rumors and lies … that would damage the UAE's social harmony and unity."

He was acquitted on charges of cooperating with a "terrorist organization" outside the country.

Human Rights Watch condemned the sentencing, saying it exposes UAE's inability "to tolerate the mildest of criticisms from a genuine reformer."

Last year, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut all ties with Doha, closing its only land border, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.

Days later, the UAE's general prosecutor announced that anyone who expressed sympathy with Qatar could face 15 years in jail, citing flawed existing legislation.

Those found guilty could also face fines of 500,000 dirhams ($136,000).

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