The United Arabs Emirates (UAE) has handed down a 10-year prison sentence to prominent rights activist Ahmed Mansoor on charges of using his social media accounts to criticize the ruling system.
Mansoor, who had no access to lawyers during his trial, was found guilty and sentenced to jail by an appeals court in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, local media reported.
The pro-democracy activist was also fined one million dirhams, about $272,000, and given three years post-release probation.
The court, however, cleared the campaigner of terrorist-related allegations.
Mansoor, an electrical engineer and poet was arrested on March 20 last year after authorities accused him of using social media platforms Twitter and Facebook to “publish false information and rumors, spread tendentious ideas that would sow sedition, sectarianism and hatred and harm national unity and social peace, as well as harming the state’s reputation and inciting disobedience.”
The activist, who was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, remained in solitary confinement for more than a year.
Since 2006, the blogger has campaigned for freedom of expression, civil and political rights in the UAE.
In 2011, he was convicted of “insulting officials” and sentenced to three years in jail, but he was released after serving eight months, but was stripped of his passport and not allowed to leave the country.
In 2016, it was also revealed that UAE authorities paid $1 million for Israeli software allowing them to hack Mansoor’s cellphone.
Rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, condemned the sentencing, saying it lays bare the UAE’s inability “to tolerate the mildest of criticisms from a genuine reformer.”