American imprisoned in UAE for 'spoof video' returns to US

Shezanne Cassim Shezanne Cassim was sentenced to one year in jail stemming from his participation in a documentary video (file photo)

Related Stories

An American who was sentenced to prison in the United Arab Emirates for making a spoof video about Dubai youth culture has returned to the US.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, arrived in his home state of Minnesota on Thursday.

Cassim and seven others were convicted in December of defaming the UAE image abroad under a 2012 cybercrimes law.

Arrested in April and later sentenced to one year in prison, Cassim was reportedly given credit for time served and good behaviour.

Cassim, a US citizen who moved to Dubai for work in 2006, participated in a 19-minute video, entitled Satwa Combat School, which was posted on YouTube in October 2012.

'Fictional' events

It opens with the explanatory text: "The following events are fictional and no offence was intended to the people of Satwa or UAE."

Set in the Satwa district of Dubai, the video is a mock documentary about a fictional establishment in which students are taught to throw sandals as a form of weapon, and seek aid through social media when in need of back-up.

Cassim, another American man, two Indians, two UAE citizens, a British citizen and a Canadian were later convicted of crimes stemming from the video.

The defendants were reportedly accused of violating Article 28, which calls for imprisonment for anyone who uses information technology "with the intent of inciting to actions, or publishing or disseminating any information, news, caricatures, or other images liable to endanger state security and its higher interests or infringe on the public order", according to local media reports.

Cassim subsequently became the public face of the defendants after his family publicised his incarceration.

"You can imagine the torture they've been under for nine months, not knowing if they were going to see him, when they were going to see him," Susan Burns, the family's attorney, told the Associated Press news agency.

"Now, they are ecstatic to be able to actually see him," she concluded.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Middle East stories


Features & Analysis

  • Abdi Nor IftinGolden ticket

    How a refugee entered a lottery and won a new life in the US

  • Herring in a fur coatMerry herring

    How fish 'in a fur coat' is enough to make Russia's New Year happy

  • Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Windjana' Drilling SiteIn pictures

    The most stunning space photos of the year

  • Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock and Dame Judi DenchFilm quiz of 2014

    How much do you remember about the past 12 months?

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world...?

    Think you are a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s interactive game


  • Tom BrookTalking Movies Watch

    Tom Brook looks back at some of the best movies of 2014 from around the world

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.