Politicians from the US and Europe are calling on the United Arab Emirates to release an activist who was detained for criticizing the government online. His lawyers say he is also being tortured in custody.
Ahmed Mansoor, 51, was abducted from his home in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison the following year for damaging the “status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols.”
Mansoor had criticized the Emirati government on Twitter, as well as in private email and WhatsApp conversations.
In court documents filed in Paris in June, lawyers for Mansoor accused Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, the head of the UAE security forces, of being responsible for torturing the activist in detention.
Al-Raisi carried out “acts of torture and barbarism,” lawyers for the Gulf Center for Human Rights said in the complaint.
The UAE — which has been accused of violating human rights for years — denies torturing Mansoor.
Politicians from the US, UK, and Europe, as well as UN officials, have called on the UAE to release Mansoor in recent times.
Mary Robinson, a former UN human rights commissioner, said earlier this month that the UAE should release Mansoor.
“He is regarded by the human rights community as a brave human rights defender,” Robinson said during a speech at the Expo Dubai world fair, according to Reuters.
“This would be a timely move also called for by the parliament of the European Union.”
On September 16, the European Union parliament passed a resolution condemning Mansoor’s imprisonment, and called on the UAE to release him.
In 2019, six members of Congress, including Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Jim McGovern, also urged the UAE to release Mansoor.
“Mr. Mansoor’s continued status as a political prisoner undermines the UAE’s human rights record, despite your declaration to celebrate 2019 as year of tolerance,” they said, according to Middle East Eye. “We urge you to release Mr. Mansoor and drop all the charges against him without delay.”
In a 2019 Human Rights Watch report, UN human rights experts also said: “Mansoor has been kept in solitary confinement, and in conditions of detention that violate basic international human rights standards and which risk taking an irrevocable toll on Mr. Mansoor’s health.”
Mansoor is said to have conducted two hunger strikes to protest his imprisonment.
During his second, which lasted 49 days, he lost 11 kilograms (24 pounds), according to Human Rights Watch.