One of the rules of this blog, besides the rule to never mention other airlines in my articles in a negative context, is not to mention other events in UAE as well. This time I am making (hopefully) the only exception. The reason for doing this lies in the fact that I could be in the same position as this American citizen is if I stayed in Dubai and submitted my passport to Emirates Airline managers for visa cancellation, as I was threatened with prison as well. EK managers actually called my embassy to tell them that I can “end up in prison for writing things against Sheik on Facebook”. This claim was not true for couple of reasons. First of all I didn’t write against Sheik, I complained to him. Second of all I wrote a blog not a Facebook post.
Writings “against the employer” can be a reason for firing a person, but they can never be a reason to arrest someone and keep them in prison. At least not where people who are used to freedom of speech and freedom of criticizing are coming from. Most of the managers in UAE know this as they are coming from the same places.
Let me be clear about this: In this occasion I support writings against an unfair and abusive employers and mobbing. If someone offends you in your house, throw them out, don’t imprison them in your house and then judge them by your own standards.
In support to the freedom of speech and criticizing and in hope that this American citizen will be treated fairly and released from prison, I am re-publishing the article from Arabian Business website:
“An American citizen arrested in Abu Dhabi after he posted a Facebook post criticising his employers and made derogatory comment toward Arabs has been freed on bail pending a trial on March 17.
Ryan Pate, a civilian helicopter mechanic, returned to the UAE last month and received a call from Abu Dhabi Police to come to the station.
On arrival, police informed Pate that he was accused of violated the country’s cyber laws for slandering his employer, who had brought the charges against him.
Now free on bail, the Florida native faces a fine of up to $50,000 and five years in jail.
US Representative David Jolly wrote to US Secretary of State John Kerry calling and UAE Attorney General, Ali Mohammed Abdullah Al Bloushi appealing for Pate’s release.
Jolly, in his letter to the UAE Attorney General, said Pate was arrested and charged for the Facebook message that he posted while on US soil.
“I fully understand the law of the UAE regarding social media and respect the sovereignty of your kingdom to defend and uphold its laws,” Jolly wrote in his letter.
“However, the Facebook messages that were posted by Mr Pate were written while he was residing within the United States. Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Mr Pate is protected under US law to freely express his opinion regardless of the content. As such it is deeply troubling that Mr Pate now faces judicial proceedings over an action that was done legally in his home country,” he added.
The charges of cyber slander against Islam and cyber slander against the UAE, have been dropped, according to reports, but Pate still faces charges of cyber slander against his employer and cyber slander against management.
Pate’s case will heard on March 17 in Abu Dhabi.“