Authorities decided The United Arab Emirates 84 activists were referred to trial on terrorism-related charges, and most of them are already serving prison sentences after being convicted in another case 10 years ago.
The Emirates News Agency, WAM, said on Saturday that the defendants “are mostly members of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization in the Emirates,” and they will be tried “for a terrorist crime whose evidence they concealed before being sentenced in 2013.”
The agency said that the Attorney General of the State, Counselor Hamad Saif Al Shamsi, ordered their referral “to the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal (State Security Court) to be tried for the crime of establishing another secret organization for the purpose of committing acts of violence and terrorism on state territory.”
She added that the defendants “had concealed this crime and its evidence before being arrested and tried in Case No. 17 of 2013 State Security Penalty.”
She said that based on information and investigations, “the Public Prosecutor ordered an investigation into the facts of this crime and assigned a lawyer to attend with each accused.”
In 2013, 69 Emirati activists, including lawyers, professors, and students, were convicted for their links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE considers a “terrorist group,” after a trial that was widely criticized by human rights defenders.
While many of them have served or are close to completing their sentences, they are currently facing new prosecutions for establishing an “independent advocacy group in 2010,” according to Human Rights Watch last December.
Human Rights Watch reported that “among those recently charged are prominent activists and opponents who are already serving prison sentences, including human rights defender Ahmed Mansour,” who was sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison for criticizing the government and distorting his country’s image on social media.
Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, “Bringing charges based on a decade of peaceful advocacy seems merely a disgraceful pretext to keep these men behind bars.”