20 January 2016 – After holding them for more than 500 days without charge, an Emirati court charged Libyan-American citizens Kamal and Mohammed al-Darat with providing material support to Libyan organizations allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday. The court charged the al-Darats along with two other Libyan nationals, including Libyan-Canadian citizen Salim al-Aradi. All four defendants have denied the government’s accusations. The court adjourned the trial until 15 February 2015. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) condemns these politically-motivated charges and calls for their immediate and unconditional release of Kamal and Mohammed al-Darat, Salim al-Aradi and the other Libyan businessman.
Government forces originally arrested the al-Darats in August 2014 and held them incommunicado for more than a month. During this period, the al-Darats were prevented from accessing an attorney or consular services. Both Kamal and Mohammed al-Darat, as well as Salim al-Aradi, have also credibly alleged that they were tortured by the authorities. Now, after almost a year and a half, the court has charged them with “supplying, sponsoring, and cooperating to provide funds and supplies to the 17th February Martyrs Brigade and the Libyan Dawn terrorist group who are part of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya.” Both Salim al-Aradi and the al-Darats claim there are no grounds for these accusations and deny the charges outright.
“On top of credible evidence of torture and other due process violations, the government has also prevented the al-Darats from consistently accessing US consular services, which is their right as American citizens,” said Husain Abdulla, ADHRB’s Executive Director. “In light of these grave abuses, the State Department should be vocally calling on the UAE, a ‘key ally,’ to allow consistent consular access, at the very least.”
The charges are based upon the country’s recent expansion of its counterterror legislation, Law 7/2014, which assigns severe penalties to crimes associated with support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a designated terrorist organization in the UAE. Although Law 7/2014 was promulgated in early August 2014, the Emirati constitution states that legislation may only be applied after it is officially issued in the Federal Gazette. The government did not publish Law 7/2014 in the Federal Gazette until 31 August 2014; five days after security services arrested the al-Darats.
Moreover, the authorities have violated the provisions of the previous counterterror legislation, Law 1/2004, which remains applicable to the al-Darats. Under Article 35 of that law, the government cannot hold individuals in provisional detention for a period of more than six months. Until Monday, however, the Emirati security forces had held the al-Darats and the other Libyan detainees for approximately 17 months without charge.
Abdulla continued, “Given that the al-Darats have suffered more than a year of arbitrary detention and have been tortured by UAE authorities, the State Department should be unequivocal in its demands for not only consular access to Kamal and Mohammed al-Darat, but also to secure their immediate release on these unsubstantiated charges, instead of continuing to remain silent for political expediency.”