UAE expat faces trial over Facebook post criticising employer

US national faces fine of up to $50,000 and five years in jail for violating UAE cyber laws
UAE expat faces trial over Facebook post criticising employer
(Bloomberg - for illustrative purposes only)
By Staff writer
Wed 04 Mar 2015 01:42 PM

An American citizen arrested in Abu Dhabi after he posted a Facebook post criticising his employers and made derogatory comment toward Arabs has been freed on bail pending a trial on March 17.

Ryan Pate, a civilian helicopter mechanic, returned to the UAE last month and received a call from Abu Dhabi Police to come to the station.

On arrival, police informed Pate that he was accused of violated the country's cyber laws for slandering his employer, who had brought the charges against him.

Now free on bail, the Florida native faces a fine of up to $50,000 and five years in jail.

US Representative David Jolly wrote to US Secretary of State John Kerry calling and UAE Attorney General, Ali Mohammed Abdullah Al Bloushi appealing for Pate’s release.

Jolly, in his letter to the UAE Attorney General, said Pate was arrested and charged for the Facebook message that he posted while on US soil.

“I fully understand the law of the UAE regarding social media and respect the sovereignty of your kingdom to defend and uphold its laws,” Jolly wrote in his letter.

“However, the Facebook messages that were posted by Mr Pate were written while he was residing within the United States. Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Mr Pate is protected under US law to freely express his opinion regardless of the content. As such it is deeply troubling that Mr Pate now faces judicial proceedings over an action that was done legally in his home country,” he added.

The charges of cyber slander against Islam and cyber slander against the UAE, have been dropped, according to reports, but Pate still faces charges of cyber slander against his employer and cyber slander against management.

Pate's case will heard on March 17 in Abu Dhabi.

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