UAE arrests US expat for satirical YouTube video

Published:  2 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Dubai, UAE, Study Abroad
An American working in the United Arab Emirates has been the first foreigner to be arrested under tough, newly-introduced cybercrime laws.

A press release by the Emirates Center for Human Rights confirmed that Shezzan Cassim was arrested last April for publishing a video on YouTube depicting a satirical view of life in Dubai for young residents. Cassim and others who helped create the video are being held at an Abu Dhabi maximum security prison, according to the group.

Cassim has been accused of publishing caricatures likely to infringe on public order and endanger state security, and faces a $250,000 fine and prison sentence. A mock documentary, the video portrays a group of students at the ‘Satwa Combat School’, a fictional entity based on the manner in which youngsters in the UAE pose as tough to impress their peers.

Officials claim the video isn’t a satire, even although its disclaimer states that no offence is intended and events are fictional, and it was published online a full month before the new cybercrime laws were introduced. Its author has been denied bail on three occasions, and has not been told of his trial date.

The accused’s family in Minnesota, USA, have kept his identity secret since his arrest, in case publicity harmed their efforts to secure his release. Having had no success to date, they agreed the release of the details and his name by the Human Rights Center.
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