Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Activists make first appearance in court

Men deny charges during appearance at State Security Court

ABU DHABI // Five activists accused of insulting members of the ruling families and posing a threat to state security denied the charges at their first court appearance yesterday.

Ahmed Mansour Ali Abdullah al Abd al Shehi, Nasser Ahmed Khalfan bin Gaith, Fahad Salim Mohammed Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali al Khamis and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq appeared at a closed hearing of the State Security Court.

They are being investigated for "crimes of instigation, breaking laws and perpetrating acts that pose a threat to state security, undermining public order, opposing the government system and insulting the President, the Vice President and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi", said the Attorney General, Salim Saeed Kubaish.

The five men were arrested in April.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers presented requests to the court on which the judge will rule today, and witnesses including internet forensics experts will be called at the next hearing on July 18, one of the men's lawyers said.

About 100 people began gathering outside the courthouse as early as 6am to show their support for the nation's leaders and voice their disagreement with the activists.

"Don't defend the traitors, those agents for Iran," the crowd shouted as the activists' lawyers, Abdul Hamid al Kumaiti and Mohammed al Roken, made their way up the stairs to enter the Federal Supreme Court building.

Mr al Kumaiti, who is representing all five activists, said he had received five death threats. The activists, particularly Mr Mansour, had also received threats, he said.

Many in the crowd of demonstrators wore Emirati kaffiyehs with pictures of the Rulers and vests reading: "We are all Khalifa."

The words were repeated in occasional chants, as well as: "With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for Khalifa."

One of the demonstrators, Abdulla al Ahbabi, a former contestant in the popular TV show Million's Poet, said: "We want to say we are different from those [activists]; we chose our presidents. We love our leaders and we grow up knowing them as our fathers. You don't find this in other Arab countries."

The demonstration, which was organised by word of mouth and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger, did not have an official permit, said Brig Gen Faris al Faresi, the general director of guarding and special tasks at Abu Dhabi Police.

"We were surprised to find them there," Brig Gen al Faresi said. "So we gave them water and drinks and shade. We set a barrier in front of the court's entrance, which no one tried to cross."

Plans for a counter-demonstration supporting the activists were also circulated on Twitter and Facebook, but no gathering materialised.

Those who took part in yesterday's demonstration signed a sheet with their names and phone numbers as they joined, in case the authorities asked for the names later.

Not all the demonstrators were Emirati. "I had a lot of errands to run today, including an appointment to renew licences and residency visas, but I came to express my opinion," said Heba Mohammed, a 50-year-old beauty salon owner from Syria who was there with her 13-year-old daughter.

"In the UAE, one can live secure and happy, especially for nationals, which is not found in any other country.

"So it upsets me to see someone criticise it while in other countries, where people live in much harsher conditions, they are supporting their rulers."

 

hdajani@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Sarah Geronimo. Courtesy: FLASH Entertainment

Sarah Geronimo brings her star power to Abu Dhabi this weekend

Ahead of her Abu Dhabi concert on Thursday night, we take a look at the Filipina singer Sarah Geronimo’s extraordinary career.

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Visitors look at the medieval inventor Al Jazari’s water-powered Elephant Clock. The clock is on show at the 1001 Inventions exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. Photos Antonie Robertson / The National

1001 Inventions: in praise of Islam’s gifts to the world

Down the centuries, from camera obscura to designing a sail that allowed early seafarers to tack into the wind, Muslim scientists have made many significant contributions to science. Rym Ghazal and Asmaa Al Hameli visit an exhibition in Sharjah that celebrates those contributions

 Mumbai Indians fans cheer they team on the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Earn cash back with the IPL cricket in the UAE

Dunia finance promotion allows cricket lovers to earn up to 6 per cent unlimited cash back on any spending they make on a day when an IPL match is played in the UAE.

 Iranian workers at the Iran Khodro auto plant in Tehran on March 18. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

Iran’s love of cars survives devastating sanctions

Sanctions and energy subsidy reductions might have hurt the Iranian automotive industry. But car makers at one factory are still optimistic, Yeganeh Salehi reports from Tehran

 This comparison image shown on Reddit annotated the objects with vehicles from the movies.

Disney confirms that Star Wars: Episode 7 is filming in Abu Dhabi desert

Disney yesterday confirmed that the filming of Star Wars: Episode 7 is taking place in the desert in Abu Dhabi.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National