UAE: Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih continues to face severe restrictions despite his release

This post is also available in: arالعربية (Arabic)

Geneva, April 17, 2020

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) has received concerning information on the conditions of former detainee Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih Al-Suwaidi, released almost a year ago.

On May 16, 2019, the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) granted Mr Al-Suwaidi a presidential pardon the release of Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih Al-Suwaidi after his appearance in  different Emirati television channels for a 30-minute long interview.

Mr Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih was among the 94 defendants of the case known as the UAE 94 trial, opened against 94 signatories of the 2011-petition for political reform. They defendants were charged with “plotting to overthrow the government” among other charges. In 2013, Mr Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih Al-Suwaidi was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison within the “UAE 94” trial. He was arrested in 2015 in Indonesia and later deported to the UAE, where he was tried again and sentenced, on March 28, 2016, to 10 years in prison.

Before the release of Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih, the authorities bargained him for his release. In his first interview conducted in July 2017 and the second one in May 2019, Mr Bin Sobeih was forced to make self-incriminating confessions and condemn Al-Islah, an Emirati reform association of which he was a member for years. It appeared obvious that the authorities had bargained Mr Bin Sobeih for his release. Not only was he forced to make confessions on public television, but he also published a book entitled Kebenjara, in which he details how the “secret organisation” of the Muslim Brotherhood had manipulated youth driving them to join terrorist groups.

A few months after the release of Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih, the authorities announced that three other prisoners of conscience were granted presidential pardon. All three of them detained beyond their prison terms, Osama Al-Najjar, Othman Al-Shehhi and Badr al-Bahri were finally released on August 8, 2019 after they were also forced to record confessions.

The Centre expresses concerns over this practice and urges the UAE to release prisoners of conscience unconditionally without forcing them to make unfounded confessions.

The presidential pardon and release of Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih was announced on May 16, 2019. After his release, very few information on his whereabouts have been reported. The Centre has recently learned that Al-Suwaidi has been wearing an electronic ankle monitor since his release. He has not been allowed to return to his home in Dubai and was forced to stay in Abu Dhabi at his sister’s house. He is denied the right to leave his sister’s home or meet anyone else except his family. Abdurrahman Bin Sobeih is allowed to visit his house and his family in Dubai once in a while for a few hours and is not allowed to stay overnight.

The ICJHR was concerned to hear that the authorities are putting pressure on other prisoners of conscience to accept similar arrangements as Bin Sobeih and record confessions in exchange for their release and their placement under similar conditions.

The Centre urges the United Arab Emirates to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience, in particular prisoners detained beyond their prison terms. We further call upon the government to lift the restrictive measures imposed on Bin Sobeih and other detainees who had allegedly been released.

For more information, please contact us at

This post is also available in: arالعربية (Arabic)

Press releases

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *