UAE: International community must step up pressure on the UAE authorities to release Ahmed Mansoor

Responding to a European Parliament resolution condemning the harassment, persecution and detention of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in May 2018 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said:
“The European Parliament has sent a strong message which should propel the international community to step up pressure on the UAE authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience. Ahmed Mansoor has been ruthlessly persecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and his unlawful imprisonment is a chilling warning about the dire state of human rights in the UAE.
“We are particularly concerned about the UAE authorities’ refusal to make details about his case public. It’s only now that we know Ahmed Mansoor has appealed his unlawful conviction and sentencing for the social media posts he made, and that he is allegedly being held in al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi. The authorities must ensure transparency over his appeal and about his whereabouts.
“Pending Ahmed Mansoor’s release, the UAE authorities must ensure that he is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and that he is granted immediate and regular access to a lawyer, his family and any health care he may require.”
Ahmed Mansoor has been detained since 20 March 2017 and held for most of this time in solitary confinement. His place of detention has never been officially confirmed. He has been granted at least two visits from his family which took place at the Public Prosecution building in Abu Dhabi.
On 29 May 2018, Mansoor was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for “publish[ing] false information, rumours and lies about the UAE” which “would damage the UAE’s social harmony and unity.” Although it is now known that Ahmed Mansoor has appealed his sentence, there is no information available as to when his case will be heard before the Federal Supreme Court.
The UAE authorities had previously stated that he was held in Abu Dhabi’s Central Prison (al-Wathba Prison) but now he is said to be held in al Sadr Prison in Abu Dhabi, some 68 km away from al-Wathba, according to the EU resolution.
This is not Ahmed Mansoor’s first conviction for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He was arrested in April 2011 and in November that year, the Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court sentenced him to three years in prison for “insulting UAE leaders by delivering speeches and public lectures” and “provid[ing] false reports and information about the UAE that would harm the policies of the state”, in addition to “contacting international rights and political organisations working abroad”. He was pardoned the next and released.