Online activists have begun a campaign for the release of Dr Nasser bin Gaith, who has been imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates since 2015 on allegations of freedom of speech.
After claiming to have been tortured at an earlier trial in 2011, Dr. bin Gaith was accused of sharing information “designed to undermine the UAE.”
Additional accusations were filed in connection with his critical social media posts about the August 2013 massacre of demonstrators in Raba’a Square by Egyptian security forces. Ironically, an Egyptian judge was assigned to decide his case in the Abu Dhabi Appeals Court.
In the three years following his sentencing, he participated in three successive hunger strikes protesting his unfair sentence and the abuse and mistreatment he endured in al-Razeen prison in Abu Dhabi.
His current physical and mental circumstances are, therefore, extremely terrible. He has lost a large amount of weight, most of his eyesight, and was previously unable to stand and walk without assistance. Additionally, he has excessive blood pressure.
However, he continues to be denied access to necessary medical treatment and crucial medications, such as his blood pressure medication. He is highly vulnerable, therefore, amid the global Covid-19 outbreak.
Prominent academic figure
Nasser bin Ghaith Al Marri, 54, is first known for his high educational accomplishment, which made him one of the scientific figures in the UAE. He holds a doctorate in international trade and international economic law from the University of Essex in England in 2007.
Bin Ghaith worked as an expert in international economic affairs and a former lecturer at the Sorbonne University of France, Abu Dhabi branch. He was the first Emirati to lecture at that university due to his high efficiency, which made him a brilliant lecturer in his specialization.
Bin Ghaith made many achievements in the economic and financial fields. He was one of the first economists to predict the economic crisis in 2008.
Bin Ghaith wrote several articles about his economic, social and political vision in the Gulf states. He did not summarize the facts or falsify them. He was calling for democracy and the protection of human rights in the Emirates. He urged direct elections for the Federal National Council and granted it natural legislative powers and not only being an advisory body. But these claims did not always find an echo.
The Emirati regime arrested him for the first time in April 2011 among the group members known as Emirates 5, which are five activists who were imprisoned on charges of “public insult” to Emirati officials. Bin Ghaith explained that he was subjected to severe torture in his prison, which lasted about seven months before they were released with a pardon.
This arrest did not prevent bin Ghaith from adhering to his free opinions, defending the values of justice, freedom, and law, and aligning with human rights issues in their comprehensive dimension that includes all aspects of the citizen. The price had to be paid in a state that relentlessly pursues free voices and activists.
The second arrest of Bin Ghaith came on August 18, 2015, when security forces arrested him in civilian clothes in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and searched his home and confiscated his personal belongings, including his electronic memory units. He was held incommunicado until his presentation to the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi on April 4 2016.
Violations before sentencing
Bin Ghaith told of being tortured, beaten and deprived of sleep for up to a week, and neither he nor his family was informed of the reason for his arrest.
Bin Ghaith’s trial fell short of international fair trial standards. Despite being repeatedly interrogated, Bin Ghaith has also been denied access to a lawyer throughout his pre-trial detention. He was only allowed to see his lawyer for the first time at the second court session on May 2, 2016. In the following months, officials restricted his communications with his lawyer inside and outside the court, further denying him the right to an adequate defence. Bin Ghaith was also denied his father’s funeral in January 2016.