U.A.E. Holds Sisters on Tweets Backing Brother, Amnesty SaysNafeesa Syeed
United Arab Emirates authorities are holding three sisters for using social media to advocate on behalf of their imprisoned brother, Amnesty International said.
Asma Khalifa al-Suwaidi and her sisters, Mariam and Alyaziyah, were called to an Abu Dhabi police station for questioning on Feb. 15 after posting a Twitter message saying, “I miss my brother,” the London-based group said Friday. “Their mother received a brief phone call from someone claiming to be a State Security official the next day who said, ‘Your daughters are fine’, but provided no further information.”
Issa al-Suwaidi was among 94 people put on trial in 2013, Amnesty said. They were suspected of having links to al-Islah, an Islamist group accused of conspiring to overthrow the government. He was one of 69 convicted in the case and received a 10-year sentence, according to the Emirates Centre for Human Rights, a U.K.-based organization.
The U.A.E. says al-Islah is a local franchise of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. U.A.E. authorities, which accuse Islamists of seeking to destabilize the country, have cracked down on the two groups at home and abroad and classifies them as terrorist organizations last year.
“The threat posed by extremist organizations in our region is all too real, as evidenced by ongoing violent conflicts which are causing untold human suffering,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement in November.
The comments were in response to a report by Amnesty, which said political activists in the U.A.E. face detention, harassment and torture. The ministry called the report “inaccurate,” dismissing allegations of mistreatment and saying the country protects human rights. Officials said those on trial were not part of a peaceful association calling for political debate.
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