Dubai appeals court upholds expat’s sentence for blasphemous Facebook post

The expat appeared at the appeal courts in Dubai (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 September 2017

Dubai appeals court upholds expat’s sentence for blasphemous Facebook post

DUBAI: Appeal courts in Dubai have upheld an earlier jail sentence handed down to an expat for posting blasphemous comments on Facebook.
The man, who worked as a welder will now serve the one-year sentence before being deported, as well as pay a 500,000 dirham fine ($136,100).
The man, from India, had claimed his Facebook account had been hacked and that he had not written the comments about the Prophet that were found on his timeline on Nov. 6, 2016.
However investigators revealed that the man had signed out of his account and deleted all his personal data the day after the comments were posted according to local press reports.
Despite denials that he had accessed the account at the time, prosecutors said similar comments had been made on his account in October 2016
Prosecutors told the court that the man also posted comments that insulted Arabs and described as a “chaotic religion,” according to UAE daily The National.
He was arrested after a fellow Indian expat reported him to police after seeing the remarks on Facebook.
“I felt so offended by the insults against my prophet so I asked a friend who knew the suspect and where he lived and I went to his house in Al Rashidiyah and found him drunk,” the grocery shop worker was quoted in The National as saying.
The defendant was convicted earlier this year, but lodged an appeal against the sentence.
Under UAE law blasphemy is illegal or to discriminate against a person because of their religion – and technically this law applies to all religions.


Rappler journalist Ressa launches defense in Philippine libel case

Updated 16 December 2019

Rappler journalist Ressa launches defense in Philippine libel case

  • Rappler has written extensively and often critically on President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies
  • Maria Ressa, named a Time Person of the Year in 2018 for her journalism, did not testify in court

MANILA: Philippine journalist Maria Ressa said Monday she would not be silenced as she launched her defense against a libel charge that press advocates call an attempt to curb her news site’s critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Her site Rappler has written extensively and often critically on Duterte’s policies, including his deadly drugs war that rights groups say may amount to crimes against humanity.
“I can go to jail for 12 years for this (case), that is the maximum sentence,” she told reporters outside court after the hearing, noting government investigators had initially dismissed the case.
“From track record you can see the political goals to shut Rappler up ... but we haven’t shut up yet,” said Ressa, who is free on bail.
Besides the libel case, Ressa and Rappler have been hit with a string of criminal charges in the span of roughly a year, prompting allegations that authorities are targeting her and her team for their work.
Ressa, named a Time Person of the Year in 2018 for her journalism, did not testify in court.
The case centers on a Rappler report from 2012 about a businessman’s alleged ties to a then-judge of the nation’s top court.
Government investigators initially dismissed the businessman’s 2017 complaint about the article, but state prosecutors later decided to file charges.
The legal underpinning of the charge is a controversial “cybercrime law” aimed at online offenses ranging from hacking and Internet fraud to child pornography.
In court on Monday, Ressa’s defense team highlighted investigators’ initial decision not to pursue the case, and her insulation from Rappler’s daily news decisions.
“As an executive editor, she does not really edit,” Chay Hofilena, a Rappler investigative journalist, told the court.
The government has repeatedly said the case has nothing to do with politics, adding that no one is above the law.
However, Duterte has in speeches lashed out at Rappler and other critical media outfits, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and broadcaster ABS-CBN.
He threatened to go after their owners over alleged unpaid taxes or block the network’s franchise renewal application.
Rights monitor Reporters Without Borders ranked the Philippines at 134 out of 178 countries on its annual “World Press Freedom” index this year, when at least three journalists were killed “most likely by agents working for local politicians.”