UAE arrests lawyer, announces move to discredit, imprison Ghalib

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Freet lawyer in Dubai charged with terrorism for allegedly “aiding torture”

A Dubai lawyer, Shaleen Mostafa, was arrested last week on national security charges for his alleged association with activist Abdulla Khalfan Ghalib. Mostafa, on advice of an Emirati lawyer, discussed his case in a guest column for the magazine Future. The report describes the arrest this way:

The men were friends, according to recent media reports. So Mr. Ghalib asked Mr. Mostafa, who holds Canadian citizenship, to go along with him when he, as an activist, went on a government-backed journey to Cuba in early June. Mr. Ghalib and another activist, Ahmad Mansoor, went to Havana to “curb propaganda” against the regime and “explore opportunities to form contacts with various political, government and business entities.”

This go-around, the UAE seems to be responding with a punishing and utterly unjustified campaign of “pressuring Qatar to adhere to their laws and end their support for extremists” (a weapon many countries, including the U.S., have long used in the Middle East to demonize Qatar and, in the process, destabilize the region).

There’s plenty to criticize about the UAE’s burgeoning crackdown. One of the troubling things is that, at least in the case of Mostafa, the crimes he’s charged with don’t actually seem to apply outside of the UAE.

But the most alarming news is that, according to the report, the government appears to be accusing Ghalib of making threats against UAE citizens — a crime usually leveled at people considered to have links to extremist organizations.

Makram Babar, the co-founder of Public Policy Forum and an expert on the Middle East, told Arab News, “If torture is admissible in this case, the United Arab Emirates is violating the UN’s convention against torture in its own land, and will be breaking the international humanitarian laws it already holds as a member of the United Nations.”

The report argues that no evidence has been presented to back up this charge. And it quotes a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, who says that the prosecutor is simply citing Articles 149 and 149.3 of the penal code, in addition to Article 148 of the UAE’s federal Penal Code and Article 184 of the Nationality Law.

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