Human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor smiles while speaking to Associated Press journalists in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

© 2016 AP Images

(Beirut) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) should free the unjustly imprisoned prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor ahead of his 50th birthday on October 22, 2019, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and over 135 other organizations said today in a letter to the UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Human Rights Watch is gravely concerned for the health of Mansoor, whom authorities have held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

“As the UAE brazenly promotes itself as a tolerant and rights-respecting state, Ahmed Mansoor, the man who stood up for so many people unjustly imprisoned before him, stands to mark his 50th birthday in solitary confinement in deplorable conditions,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “All over the world, organizations and individuals are joining forces to call on the UAE not to let Mansoor spend a third birthday in prison.” 

UAE security forces arrested Mansoor on March 20, 2017. For more than a year, he had no access to a lawyer and only very limited visits with family. Following a closed trial, Mansoor was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May 2018 for insulting the “status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols,” including its leaders, based on his peaceful calls for reform. On December 31, 2018, the Federal Supreme Court, the country’s court of last resort in state security cases, upheld his sentence, quashing his final chance at early release.