United Arab Emirates: Release Emirati Human Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor!
Emirati human rights defender and blogger Ahmed Mansoor, who is well-known and respected in the Middle East and North Africa region, has been detained in Abu Dhabi since his arrest at his home on 20 March 2017 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
At around midnight on 20 March, a group of 12 security officials entered Ahmed Mansoor’s family home in the city of Ajman and conducted an extensive search for electronic devices. Around three hours later, they took Ahmed Mansoor to an undisclosed location, and confiscated all the family’s mobile phones and laptops, including those belonging to his children. Ahmed Mansoor’s family did not hear from him for the next two weeks.
On 17 September he was brought to the Public Prosecution building in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where his family met him briefly for the second time following a first supervised visit, on 3 April. Even though the authorities claim that he is being held at Central Prison, his exact place of detention remains unverified. Ahmed Mansoor still has no access to a lawyer, and since his arrest has been detained in solitary confinement, which amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and possibly torture. Amnesty International fears for his safety.
On the day of his arrest, the UAE’s official news agency WAM issued a statement, which said that Ahmed Mansoor had been arrested on the orders of the Public Prosecution for Cybercrimes and accused of using social media websites to “publish false information and rumours”; “promote [a] sectarian and hate-incited agenda”; and “publish false and misleading information that harm national unity and social harmony and damage the country's reputation”.
On 28 March, several United Nations (UN) human rights experts issued a statement condemning Ahmed Mansoor’s detention and called for his immediate release. The rights experts said they regarded his arrest “as a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE” and that his “outstanding work in the protection of human rights and the advancement of democracy, as well as his transparent collaboration with UN mechanisms, is of great value not only for the UAE but for the whole region”. They said they feared that his arrest may constitute an act of reprisal for his engagement with UN human rights mechanisms, for the views he expressed on Twitter, and for his membership of human rights organizations.
The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded the following day with a statement on its website which claimed that the UN human rights experts’ allegations were “totally incorrect” and that Ahmed Mansoor’s family had “full access to the place of confinement”, a claim which Amnesty International understands to be false.
Prior to his arrest, Ahmed Mansoor had worked tirelessly to advocate for human rights in the UAE and the wider region. In recent years, following a huge crackdown on activists and government critics in the UAE, Ahmed Mansoor was left as the last remaining Emirati human rights defender speaking out about human rights violations in the country, including the ongoing arbitrary detention of activists.
As a result of his peaceful human rights work, he has faced repeated intimidation, harassment, physical assault, and death threats from the UAE authorities or their supporters. Since at least 2011, the authorities had placed him under physical and electronic surveillance. His computer and email accounts have been hacked and he foiled an attempted hack of his iPhone in 2016, which prompted Apple to issue a security update to the smartphone in August 2016.
Ahmed Mansoor was previously arrested once before in 2011 and sentenced, following an unfair trial, to three years’ imprisonment on the charge of “insulting officials” but was released after eight months on a presidential pardon following international pressure. His recent arrest appears calculated to halt his peaceful human rights activities.
In recognition of his courageous human rights work, Ahmed Mansoor was awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders – sometimes called the “Nobel Prize for human rights” – in 2015.
Amnesty International considers Ahmed Mansoor a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as he has been held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, including through his human rights work.
On 20 March, Amnesty International joined a coalition of human rights organizations calling for Ahmed Mansoor’s release.
Please write to the UAE authorities to:
- Release Ahmed Mansoor immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, including through his human right work;
- Ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
- Ensure he is granted immediate and regular access to a lawyer of his choosing, his family, and any medical treatment he may require.
Send appeals by letter, fax, email, tweet to UAE authorities:
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Sultan Saeed Al Badi
Ministry of Justice
PO Box: 260
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 6810680
Email: Online form
Salutation: Your Excellency
Vice-President and Prime Minister
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum
Prime Minister's Office
PO Box: 212000
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 4 330 4044
Salutation: Your Highness
And copies to:
Minister of Interior
His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Zayed Sport City, Arab Gulf Street,
Near to Shaikh Zayed Mosque
PO Box: 398
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 402 2762 / +971 2 441 5780
Salutation: Your Highness