December 2, 2011

Vice-President and Prime Minister

Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum
Co-Chair of the Higher National Security Council
Office of the Prime Minister
POB 2838, Dubai, UAE
Fax: +971 4 3531974
Minister of Interior
Lt-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Minister of Interior
Human Rights Directorate
POB: 398, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Fax: +971 4 3981119
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahya
POB 1, Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 4447766

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of Internet writers Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser Bin Gheith, but we remain concerned that their convictions still stand.

According to our information, on November 28, 2011, well-known blogger and human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor and Internet writer and economic analyst Nasser Bin Gheith were both freed under a presidential pardon, one day after they had been convicted and sentenced to two and three years in prison, respectively, for calling for political reform. However, their convictions still remain and, according to their defense lawyer, they may be left with a criminal record, which would make it difficult for them to find work and to travel and would leave them vulnerable to harassment.

The writers were among five activists sentenced on November 27, 2011, on charges of “insulting the country’s leadership” and “undermining national security.” Human rights organizations have stated that the trial against the five activists failed to comply with the principles of fair trial under international law. Ahmed Mansoor, Nasser Bin Gheith, and members of their families have all been targets of a vicious smear campaign of threats, slander, and intimidation that authorities have failed to investigate or prosecute.

PEN American Center welcomes the release of Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser Bin Gheith , but calls for their convictions to be quashed. We also call for a full investigation into the allegations of a campaign of intimidation against the writers, and urges authorities to honor their commitment to protect freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the UAE is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write & International Programs

CC: Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Court, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC, 20008
Fax: (202) 243-2432

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