YouTube Screenshot US national jailed in Dubai for Mock YouTube Video
Shezanne Cassim, 29, a former resident of Minnesota, who now lives in Dubai has been accused of violating UAE's latest cybercrime law, which came into effect in November 2012, a month after the video was posted. Cassim has reportedly violated Article 28 of the decree, which forbids publishing caricatures that are "liable to endanger state security and its higher interests or infringe on public order," reported The Daily Dot.
Cassim, who was arrested in April, is the first foreign national to be arrested under the new law. He has been been fined 1 million dirhams and is very likely to face jail time too. Sadly though, the disclaimer "the following events are fictional and no offence was intended to the people of Satwa and UAE" which opened the video hasn't been as effective as he had hoped.
The American State Department is said to be monitoring the case. Embassy officials have been sent to meet Cassim and attend his court hearings. The two actors in the video have also been detained.
However, the director of the Emirates Center for Human Rights, Rori Donaghy believes that the arrest is not justified. Labeling the rules "as ludicrous as they are harsh," Donaghy also explained that "defendants should be immediately released because posting a playful video about youth culture in no way endangers anyone's state security."
The UAE has often been criticized for its increasingly restrictive cybercrime policies that curb any form of dissent.
Last month, Waleed Al-Shehhi, was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 500,000 dirhams for his tweet on the mass political trial of 94 pro-democracy activists, who were allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
It was a closed trial and Shehhi had questioned the lack of transparency in the judicial proceeding. His tweet was construed as defaming the government.