UAE PM says treatment of jailed American was unsatisfactory

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 13, 2014 9:37 AM

DUBAI (Reuters) - The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates said on Monday that the treatment of a U.S. citizen who spent nine months in jail for posting a parody video on YouTube was unsatisfactory, and suggested it was a mistake the UAE would learn from.

Shezanne Cassim was detained in April and sentenced to a year in prison in the Gulf Arab state in December on cybercrime charges for his video, a 20-minute "mockumentary" that pokes fun at young Emirati men who imitate U.S. hip-hop culture.

Asked by the British broadcaster BBC whether Cassim's case had been handled in a satisfactory way, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: "No ... We are not perfect and we try to change it. Any mistakes, we go in and try to change it. We're not perfect, but we are doing our best."

Cassim, who was also fined 10,000 UAE dirhams ($2,700), was released last week and returned home to the United States, saying he had done nothing wrong.

He said he had been held with limited information in a prison with few facilities, and not told what crime he was accused of until about five months after he was apprehended.

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy; writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by William Maclean and Kevin Liffey)

(This story makes clear Sheikh Mohammed was asked whether treatment was unsatisfactory, not unfair)