Ahmed Mansoor

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Portrait of Ahmed Mansoor Al Shehhi

Ahmed Mansoor Al Shehhi is an Emirati blogger, human rights and reform activist arrested in 2011 for defamation and insults to the heads of state and tried in the UAE Five trial. He was pardoned by UAE's president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Mansoor was arrested again in March 2017 on charges of using social media platforms to threaten public order and publish false and misleading information. He was found guilty and convicted for threatening state security and given a prison sentence of 10 years.[1]

Emergence[edit]

Mansoor was running an opposition blog calling for reforms and human rights within the United Arab Emirates. He was arrested as one of the UAE Five in April 2011 on charges of breaking UAE law of defamation by insulting heads of state, namely UAE president Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice president Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan through running an anti-government website that express anti-government views. He was pardoned by UAE's president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.[2]

Surveillance[edit]

Following his pardon, Mansoor was monitored in 2013–2014 by the UAE government using mobile phone spyware developed by the NSO Group.[3][4] around the same time he had his passport confiscated, his car stolen, his email hacked, his location tracked, his bank account emptied, and was beaten by strangers twice in the same week.[3]

Around 2016–2017, Mansoor was targeted again by UAE contractor DarkMatter.[4] This occurred under Project Raven, a clandestine surveillance and hacking operation targeting other governments, militants, and human rights activists critical of the UAE monarchy, which came to light in January 2019.[5] Ahmed Mansoor was code named "Egret" in Project Raven, while another main target, Rori Donaghy, was code named "Gyro".[5] By June 2017, Project Raven had hacked into mobile device of Mansoor’s wife, Nadia, and given her the code name "Purple Egret".[5]

Second arrest[edit]

Mansoor was detained again in March 2017, accused of using social media platforms to "publish false and misleading information".[6][7] UN human rights experts considered his arrest and imprisonment "a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE".[8] In March 2018, after over a year of detention, much of it in solitary confinement, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined 1,000,000 Emirati dirham.[9]

In April 2019, the Human Rights Watch raised concerns over Mansoor’s deteriorating health due to his hunger strike, which he started a month back to protest against his unjust imprisonment. The organization called for his urgent release.[10]

In June 2021, The Gulf Center for Human Rights accuses, through a complaint made in France's courts, Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi of being responsible of Mansoor's torture.[11]

In July 2021, Human Rights Watch and Gulf Center for Human Rights raised grave concerns over the well-being of Mansoor, after his private letter detailing his mistreatment in detention and flagrantly unfair trial was published by a London-based Arabic news site. The letter revealed that since his detention in 2017, Mansoor was being held incommunicado, isolated from other prisoners, and without a bed and mattress. The UAE authorities denied him basic necessities and meaningful contact with other prisoners or family members, while keeping him in indefinite solitary confinement.[12]

In July 2021, Mansoor was again confirmed to be one of the persons of interest of the Pegasus software, used by UAE to spy on given targets.[13]

On 17 September 2021, the European Union legislators urged the United Arab Emirates for an immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor and other human rights activists. In a strongly-worded resolution, the EU stated that the Emirati authorities “violated Ahmed Mansoor’s rights for more than 10 years with arbitrary arrest and detention, death threats, physical assault, government surveillance and inhumane treatment in custody”.[14]

Prizes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "After Nabeel Rajab, Time for UAE to Free Ahmed Mansoor". Human Rights Watch. 2020-06-18. Retrieved 2021-02-04.
  2. ^ a b "Ahmed Mansoor". Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b "A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments". The New York Times. 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  4. ^ a b "Takeaways From The Times's Investigation Into Hackers for Hire". The New York Times. 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  5. ^ a b c Inside the UAE’s secret hacking team of American mercenaries, by Christopher Bing and Joel Schectman, January 30, 2019, Reuters
  6. ^ Perraudin, Frances (16 April 2018). "Manchester campaigners want street named after Emirati activist". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  7. ^ "UN experts call on UAE to free activist". BBC News Online. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  8. ^ "UN rights experts urge UAE: "Immediately release Human Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor"". Geneva: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  9. ^ "UAE: Activist Ahmed Mansoor sentenced to 10 years in prison for social media posts". Amnesty International. 31 May 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  10. ^ "UAE: Free Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor". Human Rights Watch. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  11. ^ "'Torture' complaint filed in France against UAE official". Al Jazeera. 12 June 2021. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  12. ^ "UAE: Prominent Jailed Activist in Danger". Human Rights Watch. 19 July 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  13. ^ لبنانية, ديانا مقلد-صحافية وكاتبة (2021-07-18). "UAE: Israel's (Pegasus) Spyware in the Service of Autocracy | Daraj". daraj.com. Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  14. ^ "European Parliament resolution on the case of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor in the United Arab Emirates". The European Parliament. Retrieved 17 September 2021.