UAE jails Omani man for ‘mocking’ Gulf state on WhatsApp messenger

Friday 26/02/2016
Time to draw a line between criticism and insult

ABU DHABI - The Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates on Monday jailed an Omani man for three years for "mocking" the Gulf state on WhatsApp messenger, local media reported.

Saleh Mohammed Saleh al-Owaissi, 29, was convicted of "distributing information aimed at mocking and harming the reputation of the state," Al-Ittihad newspaper reported on its website.

He had distributed an audio recording "in which he accused the state and its martyrs in Yemen of cowardness and treachery," the report said, citing the verdict.

Owaissi was also fined 50,000 dirhams ($13,625).

It was unclear with whom he shared the message on the popular mobile telephone application, or how many people it reached.

The UAE is a key member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen in support of internationally recognised President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The oil-rich country has not seen any of the pro-reform protests that have swept other Arab countries since 2011, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman.

But authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent amid calls for unrest.