Abu Dhabi: Seven men stripped of UAE citizenship for posing a security threat have failed in their bid to have their Emirati status restored, the Federal Appeals Court ruled on Monday.

The appeals court turned down the defendants who challenged a lower court’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit against the Ministry of Interior. The court, presided over by justice Eisa Mohammad Al Jaber, upheld the ruling of the Federal Court of First Instance that it was illegal on the part of the defendants to file a petition against the Ministry of Interior’s decision to withdraw their citizenship certificates and passports because the decision was in implementation of the presidential decree revoking their citizenship.

The lower court had explained in its ruling that it could only look into decisions relating to a change in the legal status of individuals “but the defence targeted only the Interior Minister’s decision which was taken in implementation of the presidential decree revoking the citizenship”.

Abdul Hamid Al kumaiti, the defendants’ lawyer, told Gulf News his clients were prepared to challenge the ruling before the Federal Supreme Court and would focus on the grounds on which it was issued.

It may be recalled that the UAE revoked the citizenship of the seven men in December on the grounds that they posed a threat to national security.

Dr Mohammad Al Rokn, who represented the defendants in court during an earlier hearing, said he would file a petition against the presidential decree. “The men have been suing the Interior Ministry for revoking their citizenship before they were presented with the presidential decree. Once we were shown the decree, we attempted to direct the plea against it but the court turned down our request for failing to follow the due legal course,” he told Gulf News.

The defendants can still approach the Federal Supreme Court, which will take into account any lapses on the part of the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeals. If the Federal Supreme Court finds any flaw in the application of the law, the appeals court’s ruling can be reversed and the case referred to another bench.

The seven defendants never attended the hearings. Court appearances are mandatory for litigants in criminal cases but not in administrative lawsuits, a category the defendants fall under.

Sara Al Shamsi, representing the Ministry of Interior, earlier submitted to the court the decrees revoking the citizenships of the seven men.

The Public Prosecutor defended the decision to revoke the defendants’ passports on grounds of national security, saying the ministry had the right to do so since the men were naturalised citizens.

However, the defendants argued that they were Emiratis by law and could not be stripped of their citizenship. Their lawsuit was rejected by the lower court whereupon they appealed against the decision.