UAE jails Qatari doctor for supporting banned group

By Bill Law
Gulf analyst

Image caption,
Dr Mahmoud al-Jaidah is being held in an unknown location, his family say

A Qatari doctor has received a seven-year jail sentence in the United Arab Emirates for supporting a banned organisation.

Dr Mahmoud al-Jaidah was sentenced on Monday after being convicted of ties to al-Islah, an Islamic religious society.

Amnesty International has said he is a "prisoner of conscience" but the UAE government says he is connected to a group plotting its overthrow.

Dr Jaidah's sentence, delivered at the Supreme Court, cannot be appealed.

He was convicted along with two others. A fourth person was acquitted.

Dr Jaidah, a senior medical practitioner at Qatar Petroleum, was arrested in February, 2013. He was held at an unknown location for several months.

His family told the BBC that in that time he was subjected to torture and forced to sign false confessions.

The UAE has consistently denied those allegations.

Last year more than 60 people, most of them members of al-Islah, were convicted of "belonging to an illegal, secret organisation... that aims to counter the foundations of this [UAE] state in order to seize power and of contacting foreign entities and groups to implement this plan."

The defendants, including two prominent human rights lawyers, were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years.

Sentence denounced

The UAE has said that al-Islah is what it called a "cell" of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar heavily supported the Brotherhood in Egypt under ousted President Mohammed Morsi, angering the UAE.

Some observers believe that Dr Jaidah was singled out because he is a Qatari.

His son Hassan told the BBC: "My father is innocent. There is no evidence against him except what was secured under torture."

Rori Donaghy, a human rights activist with the Emirates Centre for Human Rights which has campaigned for Dr Jaidah's release, called the conviction "a gross miscarriage of justice with clear fair trial allegations and allegations of torture that the authorities have failed to investigate".

Hassan al-Jaidah said the family was waiting to hear from the Qatari foreign ministry.

"We were told they are dealing with the case so hopefully they will do something. He is a Qatari citizen and they should fight for his freedom."

The UAE government has not commented on the sentence.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.