PEN International welcomes the release of Internet writers Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser Bin Gheith on November 28, 2011, under a presidential pardon. They were freed a day after they had been convicted and sentenced to three and two years in prison, respectively, for calling for political reform. Although free, the convictions were not cancelled leaving them vulnerable to harassment and restrictions. PEN continues to call for the removal of the writers’ convictions and for a full investigation into allegations of an ongoing state-sponsored campaign of intimidation against them. It reminds the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of its commitment to respect freedom of expression in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the UAE is a signatory.

Background Information

Well-known blogger and rights activist Ahmed Mansoor and Internet writer and economic analyst Nasser Bin Gheith were arrested from their homes on April 8 and 10, 2011, respectively, after signing a petition calling for democratic and economic reforms in the UAE. There were allegations of ill-treatment against Mansoor while he was in detention. Both writers are among five activists who, on November 27, 2011, were given sentences ranging from two to three years in prison on charges including “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. Furthermore, it is reported that the activists and their families have been the targets of a vicious smear campaign of threats, slander, and intimidation that authorities have failed to investigate or prosecute.
On November 28, 2011, the UAE president commuted the sentences. According to the men’s defense lawyer, however, commutation of the sentences may still leave the activists with a criminal record, which will make it difficult for them to find work and to travel.
After his release from prison, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP) on November 29, 2011, Ahmed Mansoor said, “They did everything to make me a criminal, but I consider fighting for human rights and free speech as part of my patriotic duty.”

Prior to his arrest, Mansoor had reportedly been harassed and threatened following an online smear campaign against him.

Write A Letter

  • Calling for the removal of the convictions against Ahmed Mansoor  and Nasser Bin Gheith, and a full investigation into allegations of a campaign of intimidation against the men;
  • Reminding the UAE of their commitment to respect freedom of expression in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the UAE is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

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
Email through Web
Salutation: Your Highness

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
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahya
POB 1, Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 4447766
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for the UAE in your country if possible.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after January 31, 2012: ftw [at]