Abu Dhabi: A man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail and ordered to pay a fine of Dh1 million for defaming the UAE through social media channels, the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.
The Emirati defendant, A.M.S., will also be placed under probation for three years after serving his jail term.
The court ordered the confiscation of all communication devices used in the crimes, deletion of the statements and closure of the websites and social networking sites used in the offences. The defendant was, however, acquitted of cooperating with a terrorist organisation operating outside the country.
The man was found guilty of using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook etc to publish false information, rumours and lies about the UAE and promoted sectarian feelings and hatred that would damage the UAE’s social harmony and unity.
He also published false information to damage UAE’s reputation abroad and encouraged his followers on social media not to follow the UAE laws and portrayed the UAE as a lawless land, prosecutors said.
At the first hearing of his trial in May, the defendant told the court he was unable to retain a lawyer to defend him. The court decided to appoint a lawyer, Tariq Al Shamsi, who asked the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals to acquit his client of all charges. But the court was not satisfied with the pleading and convicted the defendant.
In 2011, the State Security Court at the Federal Supreme Court sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment after being convicted of insulting UAE leaders by delivering speeches and public lectures, as well as through the social media.
He was convicted of contacting international rights and political organisations working abroad and providing false reports and information about the UAE that would harm the policies of the state and its positions and external relations.
Shortly after his sentence, he was pardoned by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and he returned to normal life.
However, his activity did not stop and he continued more actively to exploit the social networking platforms (Twitter and Facebook) to abuse UAE leaders and write articles and news full of errors and abuses and the dissemination of false allegations which distorted the image of the country and which could jeopardise its interests and relations with brotherly Gulf states.