The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 4 began the trial of 94 people charged with plotting to overthrow the government. The group of defendants includes unnamed doctors, academics, lawyers and other professionals arrested over the past year and accused of forming a secret network with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and designs to raise money in a plotted coup against the UAE's ruling families. International human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the charges and raised concerns regarding the transparency and fairness of the trial. Most of the defendants are members of the conservative Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), a nonviolent Islamist political association.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR) claimed Dec. 6 that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arrested an 18-year-old blogger as part of a wider effort to crack down on perceived government opposition. The ECHR claims that UAE security forces searched the home of Mohamed Salem al-Zumer and confiscated several electronic devices before arresting him and transferring him to an unknown location. The rights group condemned this arrest and the continued practice of arresting peaceful dissenters. In the statement, the ECHR detailed further restrictive practices:
We have long been skeptical about incessant predictions from the Chicken Little crowd of an imminent US or Israeli attack on Iran. We've heard these predictions for years, and it still hasn't happened—yet none of those making the predictions ever seem to eat crow. And there has been plenty of evidence that the whole thing is a game of brinkmanship aimed at keeping Iran intimidated. But in recent weeks we have started to fear that the new circumstances in the Middle East may indeed be compelling the West towards war with Iran. Now, with two US warships headed for Libya, 25 nations led by the US are converging on the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz for naval maneuvers on an unprecedented scale. The idea seems to be to prevent Iran from closing off the strait in the event of war. Prominent partners in the 12-day exercise are the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (The Telegraph, Sept. 15)
A judge for the US District Court Eastern District of Virginia on Aug. 13 sentenced a convicted Somali pirate negotiator to a dozen life sentences. Judge Robert Doumar sentenced Mohammad Shibin to serve 10 concurrent life sentences, two consecutive life sentences and two 20-year sentences, and ordered him to pay $5.4 million in restitution. Shibin was convicted in April of piracy, hostage taking, kidnapping, conspiracy, and other charges for his role in the February 2011 hijacking of an American yacht that ultimately led to the murder of the four US citizens taken hostage. Shibin was allegedly paid $30,000-50,000 for his services, which included ransom negotiations and hostage background investigations. The four hostages were killed despite attempts by the US military to negotiate their release. Shibin also served as a ransom negotiator for 22 crewmen who were taken hostage when their German-owned vessel was hijacked in May 2010. The men reported being tortured during their seven months in captivity.