UAE releases two Qataris sentenced for insulting local leaders

The UAE justified the pardon, saying that it wanted to smoothen its relationship with ally Qatar.



The UAE’s president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has pardoned two Qatari nationals who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a state court.

According to comments published by state news agency WAM, the decision was taken to strengthen the UAE’s fraternal relationship with Qatar.

Last week, the UAE Federal Supreme Court sentenced four Qatari nationals to life imprisonment and a fifth person to 10 years in prison for insulting the local leadership.

The defendants in the case were convicted for spreading false news, data and information about the UAE’s royal family on social media website Twitter.

The accused in the case were also fined Dhs1 million for the offence, WAM said.

The relationship between Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain was strained for most of last year due to the former’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Qatar also reportedly gave sanctuary to some Brotherhood members and extended an offer of citizenship to the Islamist cleric Yousef Al Qadrawi, who holds close ties with the group.

As a result, the three countries withdrew their envoys from Qatar, showing their displeasure of Qatar’s open support to a group they think espouses an extreme ideology of Islam.

The relationship between the Gulf allies has since thawed, with Qatar promising not to provide a base for Muslim Brotherhood to operate from.

All three countries returned their ambassadors after an eight-month period as the diplomatic row was resolved.

Gulf countries are battling a wave of radicalism with the emergence of groups such as ISIL and Muslim Brotherhood that promote an extreme form of religious ideology and an intolerance of minority groups.

They have been blamed for inflaming sectarian tensions between the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.