UAE pardons five jailed for insulting leaders
Abu Dhabi, November 28, 2011
The United Arab Emirates on Monday pardoned five activists who were convicted a day earlier for insulting UAE leaders and had been on hunger strike for two weeks, a lawyer defending the group said.
The five were arrested in April on charges of disrupting public order and calling for protests, and had been on trial since June. Their sentences were up to three years in prison.
"The president issued a decree pardoning all of them," Mohammed Al-Roken told Reuters, adding that he was told about the decree by the UAE public prosecutors. "I hope they will be released before the end of the day."
A rights group which followed the case said the pardon underlined that the trial and verdict were unfair to begin with. "It was a wise decision to pardon them because they are not guilty," Samer Muscati of Human Rights Watch told Reuters.
Ahmed Mansoor, a communications engineer, was accused of running a website that gave Nasser bin Ghaith and three other defendants a venue to express anti-government views. The court ordered the website closed.
"I hope the case is completely closed now so that they can go back and serve their nation," Al-Roken said.
Prosecutors said in October one of the activists published a petition urging a boycott of elections in September for half of a 40-seat consultative council. Prosecutors said they had evidence the defendants incited citizens to "breach public order and stage demonstrations against the state". -Reuters