Cyber Crackdown: United Arab Emirates Arrests Suspected Online Dissidents
By Maya Shwayder | December 19, 2012 3:23 AM EST
One month after the United Arab Emirates announced they would be adopting tougher Internet laws, including stricter monitoring of anti-government speech, at least three online activists in the UAE were arrested over the weekend, the U.K.-based Emirates Centre for Human Rights said.
For the three men -- Saeed Majed Alshamsi, Naji Alunaimi, and Said Alshehhi -- their arrests are possibly in connection with an Arabic-language twitter account, @weldbudhabi, that is very critical of the government. Authorities have not disclosed the reasons for the arrests.
"This Twitter account has over 11,000 followers and has provided a consistent headache to the security services with its covering of the crackdown," Emirates Centre said in a statement. "The account has supported freedom and democracy in the UAE… It has been reported that the @weldbudhabi account has been hacked by Emirati security services and are the ones posting messages currently."
The new cyber law in the UAE, which went into effect on November 13, outlaws any "information, news, caricatures or any other kind of pictures" that could threaten "public order," Al-Jazeera reported at the time. Anyone convicted of running such a website or posting such content faces a minimum three year jail sentence.
The European Union has previously denounced what they deem as harassment of pro-democracy activists in the UAE, and says that there are at least 64 "prisoners of conscience" in UAE jails, a fact the UAE government denies.
As of September, the activist site CyberDissidents.org said that there were at least 57 bloggers in UAE jails.
Amnesty International has long condemned the UAE for committing human rights abuses, including arbitrary detentions and torture of prisoners.
“Political parties do not exist in the UAE; political dissent is not tolerated and there are severe restrictions on freedom of expression. Websites have been targeted for closure and their owners prosecuted for defamation” the campaign group stated.
“The use of torture of political detainees has been widely reported. Methods have included sleep deprivation, suspension by the wrists or ankles followed by severe beatings to the soles of the feet and even the use of electric shocks to various parts of the body.”
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Lunch with the Gods: Pope Francis Eats with Vatican Workers in Cafeteria
- Celebrities Suffering From Lupus: Facts About the Disease
Join the Conversation
- ACT Party's Demand to Re Consider Maoris Privileges Evokes Reprimand
- Opinion Poll in New Zealand Shows National Party Far Ahead in Popular Support
- “Women should not laugh in public” - Turkish Deputy PM says
- Iran Leader Asks Muslims to Supply Arms to Palestine, Calls Israel ‘Rapacious Wolf’
- Canada Claims Good Progress in EU Trade Pact Despite Germany’s Defiant Postures
- These 2 Questions Reveal if You Unwittingly Abuse Alcohol
- Jennifer Lopez and Her Wild 45th Birthday Party: How JLo’s Life-Size Birthday Cake from SamiCakes Boutique Was Made
- Blake Griffin’s Back Injury Is the Reason for His Withdrawal from Team U.S.A.
- Supernatural Season 10 Spoilers: Metatron Capable of Saving Castiel's Fading Grace
- Anderson Silva To Test the Octagon Anew After Freak Leg Injury, To Fight Nick Diaz in 2015