The United Arab Emirates’ Journalists Association denounced the defense lawyers for a group accused of conspiring against the government, saying they are putting pressure on local media, the state news agency WAM said.
The lawyers and families of the defendants are trying to “intimidate” local reporters so that they “deviate from the patriotic line,” the association, which traditionally supports the government against criticism from international human rights organizations, said in a statement, according to WAM.
International media were denied access to the hearing when the U.A.E. Federal Supreme Court on March 4 opened the case against 94 citizens, including 13 women, charged with forming a secret organization to overthrow the government.
The media association said that defense lawyers have asked the government to “restrain the press” from hostile reports about the defendants, and threatened to sue local media including the al Khaleej newspaper over coverage of the case.
Amnesty International said the U.A.E. authorities denied its delegate entry into the country ahead of the trial held in the capital Abu Dhabi, “highlighting serious questions about its transparency and fairness,” the organization said in a March 3 statement.