Middle East

UAE jails 30 over 'Muslim Brotherhood ties'

Emirati lawyer Mohammed al-Mansoori (January 2011) Image copyright AFP
Image caption High-profile Emirati lawyer Mohammed al-Mansoori was among those convicted

A court in Abu Dhabi has sentenced 20 Egyptians and 10 UAE citizens to up to five years in prison after finding them guilty of national security charges.

The Islamists denied setting up an "international" branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and stealing secret information from the security services.

They will have no right to appeal.

Amnesty International said the case was "littered with irregularities", and many of the defendants told the court they had been tortured or ill-treated.

The UAE authorities have denied using torture and the court ordered medical tests for some of the men when their trial started in November.

'Lack credibility'

On Tuesday, the UAE Federal Supreme Court convicted the 30 men of stealing and distributing classified files belonging to the Supreme Council for National Security (SCNS), establishing and running a branch of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and collecting money to support it.

The National, an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, reported that the judge had also ordered the closure of "all branches of the Brotherhood in the country the group had been running" and the seizure of "all funds and properties" related to it.

The defendants were said to be linked to an Emirati Islamist political society, al-Islah, which prosecutors asserted was a branch of the Egypt-based Brotherhood. But Al-Islah says it favours peaceful reform and denies ties to the Islamist movement.

The rise of the Brotherhood after the 2011 revolution in Egypt alarmed most Gulf Arab states, including the UAE. After the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the group, the UAE provided the interim government with $3bn of financial support.

All 10 of the Emiratis had been convicted along with 59 others in July in a separate mass trial of attempting to overthrow the country's political system and sentenced to prison terms of up to 10 years.

They include the high-profile lawyer Mohammed al-Mansoori, physicist Hussain Ali Alnajjar Alhammadi and former teacher Saleh Mohammed al-Dhufairi, whom Amnesty said it considered prisoners of conscience held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.

Among the 20 Egyptians are three medical doctors, including Ali Ahmed and Mohammed Abdul Monem. Six of them were tried in absentia.

The Egyptians will be deported after serving their sentences.

On Monday, Amnesty complained that the trial had been "marred by a catalogue of human rights violations", with "arrests made without judicial warrants, allegedly falsified arrest dates being used in court documents, and defendants being subjected to months of secret detention and solitary confinement without access to a lawyer".

Many defendants told the court that they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated, including with the use of electric shocks, and some had said they were forced to sign "confessions" admitting their guilt, it added.

After the verdict, Rori Donaghy, head of the UK-based Emirates Centre for Human Rights, said in a statement: "In the absence of a proper legal process and an investigation into credible allegations of torture these convictions lack all credibility."

However, a source close to the UAE government told the Reuters news agency: "The trial took place in a transparent manner. The proceedings went according to the legal and juridical laws and regulations in the UAE."

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