Shezanne “Shez” Cassim is an American who was wrongfully detained and imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates from April 7, 2013 to January 8, 2014, for posting an amateur comedy video on YouTube.
The fictional video presented a humorous view of youth culture in Shezanne’s childhood home of Dubai, but UAE authorities accused him of endangering national security. UAE authorities made him sign a false confession and held him without charge, bail, or a trial in a maximum-security federal prison for the majority of his detention. UAE prosecutors denied Shez permission to meet with the local defense attorneys his parents had spent their life savings to hire.
After sustained efforts by family, friends, human-rights activists, and Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die to gain his release, as well as intervention by diplomatic staff, elected representatives, and his US attorney, Shezanne was finally “tried” and convicted by the UAE Supreme Court. Shez was fined and given a one-year prison sentence (nine calendar months) with credit for time served, and was then deported and prohibited from ever returning to the UAE.
In an interview with the BBC following Shez’s release, UAE Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum admitted that Shez’s treatment had been unsatisfactory, and that the UAE tries to correct its mistakes, but the UAE has yet to follow through.
Please take a look at the BBC story “ Jailed YouTuber Seeks UAE Pardon ” for more information.
The time has come for the UAE to fix its mistakes. Thanks for making it happen…
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