The Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: A man was sentenced to 10 years in jail and Dh1 million fine after he was found guilty of defaming the UAE through social media channels, the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

The Emirati defendant, AMS, was also placed under probation for three years after serving his term.

The court ordered confiscation of all communication devices used in the crimes, deleted the statements and closed the websites and social networking sites used in the offences. The man was acquitted of cooperating with a terrorist organisation operating outside the country.

He was found guilty of using social media sites such as Twitter, 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, which was held in early 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 Appeal to acquit him of all the charges against him. But the court was not satisfied with the request and convicted the defendant and sentenced him to the previous sentence.

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 provide 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, he did not stop his activities and continued more actively to exploit the social networking platforms (Twitter and Facebook) to abuse UAE leaders. He and write articles  to spread false allegations which distorted the image of the country and jeopardized its interests and relations with brotherly Gulf states.