x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE trial: Brotherhood given confidential files ‘by mistake’

The trial of 30 people accused of running a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has resumed at the Federal Supreme Court.

ABU DHABI // Confidential national security files were mistakenly handed over to a member of the Muslim Brotherhood by a government officer trying to build a portfolio of his sports club’s achievements, the Federal Supreme Court heard yesterday.

K H, an Emirati First Warrant Officer at the Supreme Council for National Security, admitted to the court that he had handed a memory drive containing the files to M A, from Egypt, one of 30 men – 20 Egyptians and 10 Emiratis – accused of running a UAE branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, he said this was his personal memory drive and that he did not intend the Egyptian to access the files.

“I was a member of a sports club and was asked by the management to put together a report of the club’s achievements. I needed a few pictures of the club’s activities to go with the report and asked M A – the secretary of the club – to provide me with some,” he said.

“He said he did not have any CDs to burn the pictures on, so I gave him my memory drive.”

The officer said the Egyptian took the memory drive away and returned about 20 minutes later.

A few months later, the officer was arrested and interrogated about whether he was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood and asked whether he had leaked information to the group.

“I then remembered the incident having to do with the memory drive and the data it contained. I never gave it to anyone but M A, and no one knows the content of the memory drive, probably not even him,” he said.

“He was the only one to have access to this specific memory drive, and he must have looked through it and copied the contents.”

Defence lawyer Abdulhameed Al Kumaiti asked why the officer did not supervise the Egyptian’s use of the memory drive.

“I needed the pictures quickly. I didn’t think he would look through the files or copy them,” replied the officer.

Major S F, from National Security, was assigned to search the house of R S, an Emirati who was sentenced in July for his involvement with another branch of the Muslim Brotherhood operating in the UAE.

Judge Mohammed Al Jarrah Al Tunaiji heard that after his house was searched R S admitted possessing a memory drive containing confidential national security information which he obtained from another man, S D, who was also sentenced in July to 10 years in prison.

The court heard the contents of the memory drive were shown during a secret meeting held by the UAE Muslim Brotherhood branch.

The major said investigations found that the secret group was highly organised and had a board of administrators and a general office and various committees spread across the country.

The committees oversaw areas such as education, media, female enrolment and planning and security. Each committee had a president and a vice president.

He said the group reported to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Al Irshad Centre in Egypt and that its task was to support the centre by enrolling new members and collecting financial aid and donations. He said one of the Egyptian defendants visited the Egyptian office regularly to communicate with its leader.

The major said the purpose of the Muslim Brotherhood’s UAE office was to nurture financial support from Emiratis.

“They [the Brotherhood] know the Gulf region specifically is doing well economically, so they benefit from the monthly subscriptions and investments of the members to support the organisation financially,” he said.

The major was one of six National Security officers to give evidence at yesterday’s hearing. Some defendants questioned the officers’ evidence, and said they were not the same inspectors who searched their houses.

The officers replied by reciting the addresses of each defendant.

At the end of the hearing, the defendants said they had been prevented from seeing their lawyers, and asked to do so. They also asked to see the case files and to be allowed to bring in their notes to the hearings. The notes had previously been confiscated, they said.

The judge approved their requests and asked for the case files to reach them immediately. He said the medical reports requested last time were still not ready, but would be discussed at a future hearing.

The case was adjourned to November 19 when the prosecution will submit its arguments.

Representatives from the US and Egyptian embassies attended the hearing.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae