Govt supporters shout slogans as court hears case against bloggers

ABU DHABI — The fourth closed-door hearing in a case against a group of five Emirati bloggers, who are facing prison terms on the charges of endangering the country’s security and undermining public order, was held at the Federal Supreme Court here on Monday.

By Anwar Ahmad

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Published: Tue 27 Sep 2011, 9:59 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:57 AM

The panel of judges heard witnesses from both sides and fixed the date of the next hearing on October 2, but the court officials did not divulge any further details about the case.

Scores of Emiratis, holding banners and flags and wearing vests, shouted slogans in support of the UAE leaders and condemning the bloggers outside the Supreme Court. The people started gathering outside the court from early in the morning.

The verdict the Federal Supreme Court will hand out will be final and irrevocable and binding on all parties under the UAE Constitution and the Public Prosecution would enforce the court verdict — whether it be conviction or acquittal, UAE Attorney-General Salim Saeed Kubaish said.

The competent authority in the State protects both citizens and residents on its soil as per the law, the Attorney-General said. The apex court held the first closed-door hearing in the case on June 13, after the five bloggers were arrested in April.

Speaking with Khaleej Times, Ahmad Al Hosni who was among the people who gathered outside the court, said the entire UAE society was shocked at some persons talking falsehood. “They don’t represent the entire UAE society. In fact, they have insulted the community and made derogatory remarks against the leadership of the country and are highly disappointing,” he said.

These bloggers spoke about their unemployment, housing and salaries to the media, which were not true. “They were getting handsome salaries and own businesses and houses. They lied in front of the media,” Al Hosni said.

In the UAE, if an Emirati passes Grade 10 and gets employed somewhere in government sector, he/she receives handsome remuneration which is well-known in the UAE society.

These bloggers studied in European countries and had spent good time there. That could be a reason why they made these statements because they are unaware of the UAE society and lack interaction with the culture and the society, Al Hosni added.

Kubaish said these crimes are punishable under the Federal Penal Code and the Federal Law on Combating Cyber Crimes.

The defendants are facing charges of instigation to break laws, perpetrating acts that pose a threat to the state’s security, undermining public order, opposing the government system and insulting the President, the Vice-President and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Kubaish said.

They were detained after the pieces of evidence against them were confirmed and after the Public Prosecution interrogated them and found them to have committed these crimes.

Ahmed Mansour Ali Abdullah Al Abd Al Shehi, Nasser Ahmed Khalfan bin Gaith, Fahad Salim Mohammed Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali Al Khamis, all Emiratis, and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq Ahmed, who does not carry identification papers, were referred to the Federal Supreme Court.

Under the said laws, the defendants face, if convicted, prison terms between one month and up to five years, Kubaish said.

A bench of three judges is hearing the case and the number of hearings will depend on the requests submitted by the defence lawyers and their arguments, he added.

“We have gathered here to urge the government to enforce the country’s law as nobody is above the law. Every person needs to obey and respect the law,” Al Hosni said.

“Seek permission before you protest, as we did. Before gathering in this park in front of the court, we got an approval from the Ministry of Interior,” he added. —

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