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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

British-German teacher jailed for explicit pictures of children, not 'electronic insult', say UAE courts 

Prosecutors have spoken out about the case of Christian Wilke-Breitsameter, who worked at a school once attended by Kate Middleton, saying he was convicted last year for possessing the images and videos, contrary to press reports that he was jailed for a social media insult

Abu Dhabi prosecutors say a British-German teacher was jailed for possessing hundreds of pornographic pictures and videos of children, not for an “electronic insult”, as was reported.

Christian Wilke-Breitsameter, who taught at the Duchess of Cambridge’s old school in the UK, was arrested in April last year and jailed in December for a year.

Media reported on Saturday and last April that he had been arrested for issuing an insult on social media.

“He is a paedophile and was arrested because of the images and videos found on his computer and cell phone,” a source in the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said. “The UAE takes child abuse and the downloading and viewing of child pornography very seriously.”

Wilke-Breitsameter, 39, was teaching at an elite private school in Al Ain when police received a tip that he possessed and distributed explicit pictures of children.

Court documents seen by The National show that he admitted to watching explicit videos of children but denied distributing it.

In the statement, Wilke-Breitsameter said he downloaded the videos through the website GigaTribe. He admitted to having more than 300 pictures and about 100 videos.

In December, he was sentenced to the year in jail and a fine of Dh50,000 followed by deportation. Wilke-Breitsameter appeared in court to appeal against the decision on March 27 but was unsuccessful.

His was considered to be a lenient sentence given the UAE’s strong stance against child abuse and exploitation. Under child protection laws, punishments can be as harsh as 10 years in prison and a Dh1 million fine.

Wilke-Breitsameter, who has dual British and German citizenship but is listed as German in court documents, worked in the UK as an information technology teacher at schools including Downe House School in Berkshire, where Kate Middleton was a pupil, before moving to the UAE last year.

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Wilke-Breitsameter’s mother, who lives in Germany, had earlier told the press that she did not know why her son was arrested and claimed that he was not told the details of the crime.

She said he had been sentenced for an online insult and that she was concerned about his mental health.

“On the 25th of December, we were sitting together as a family when the phone rang. It was Christian,” his mother said. “He was completely desperate.

“‘I did not do anything,’ he kept telling me. He cried and begged me to help him. I am so afraid for my son. I’m afraid he will not get through this.”

In February, William Ball, an American teacher from a Dubai school, was arrested over child sex charges in the US.

Mr Ball was suspended from his post at the Swiss International Scientific School in Al Jaddaf after he was arrested on a trip home. He was accused of soliciting a minor for sex and child pornography.

Issuing an insult on social media is considered a crime in the UAE, as is discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.

Blasphemy and hate speech online are also considered very serious matters.

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