August 3, 2020
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum
Vice-President and Prime Minister
Prime Minister’s Office
P.O. Box 212000
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 4 330 4044
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write today to express our grave concern for Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, a U.S.-educated economist and former lecturer at University of Paris IV Abu Dhabi, who has been imprisoned since 2015. His health has seriously deteriorated, which is of particular concern as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread and people in confined settings like prisons are especially at risk. Additionally, Dr. bin Ghaith is particularly vulnerable and probably would not fare well should he contract the virus, due to his health issues.
We wrote you several times in the past: on June 7, 2016, February 22, 2017, and January 15, 2019 about Dr. bin Ghaith’s situation. He was sentenced in 2017 to 10 years in prison. The charges – “committing a hostile act against a foreign state” and “posting false information in order to harm the reputation and stature of the state and one of its institutions” – were based on Tweets that he posted that were critical of the government of Egypt and of the legal process to which he was being subjected.
Social media posts are not criminal offenses, they are a form of free expression, one of the most fundamental of human rights. We do not consider these charges, nor the conviction of Dr. bin Ghaith, to be legitimate.
Dr. bin Ghaith was held incommunicado from August 2015 to April 2016, and denied medical treatment during that period. Also, during this period he claims that he was tortured. Since his conviction, he has been held at Al-Razeen Maximum Security prison, where he has been mistreated, subjected to solitary confinement, and gone on hunger strikes to protest these abuses.
Reportedly, Dr. bin Ghaith is being denied his blood pressure medication and suffers from a visual impairment. He is now unable to stand on his own. We are appalled at this deterioration of his health, and concerned that this leaves him extremely vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.
In light of these health concerns, and in light of the fact that he has been imprisoned simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association, we urge you to release Dr. bin Ghaith immediately and unconditionally. We, also ask that you expunge his conviction, as it is based on illegitimate charges. Pending his release, we urge you to see that he receives necessary medical attention and care, is protected from further ill-treatment, and has access to family and legal representatives.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Minister of Interior
Zayed Sport City, Arab Gulf Street, Near to Shaikh Zayed Mosque
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 402 2762/+971 2 441 5780
HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Crown Prince Court
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street
P.O. Box 124
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 668 6622
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 243 2432