UAE arrests crown prince's adviser, sparking fears for safety


Amnesty International fears Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, an adviser to Mohammed bin Zayed, is a 'prisoner of conscience'

Abdulkhaleq Abdullahhas not posted on Twitter since 16 January (Reuters)
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Last update: 
Wednesday 25 January 2017 13:04 UTC

Human rights groups have raised concern at the arrest of a prominent Emirati academic and government adviser, who is feared to be a “prisoner of conscience”.

Abdulkhaleq Abdullah is a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University and known to be close to the Emirati state.

Unverified reports of his arrest were confirmed by Amnesty International’s UAE office, which said on Tuesday that he was in custody, and was feared to be a “prisoner of conscience”.

There has been no confirmation from Emirati authorities that he is under arrest.

Abdullah, usually extremely active on Twitter, has not posted publicly since 16 January.

Some reports suggest that he was arrested over material posted to the social media site.

As well as working as a professor of political science, Abdullah is also an adviser to Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and head of the UAE’s armed forces.

However, he has been openly critical of government policy.

He is also an outspoken opponent of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi, who has received millions of dollars of financial support from the UAE.

He advised Sisi not to run for president in 2018, and wrote in December that he had become “a political and financial burden on the Gulf states”.

Abdullah was also fired from his post at an Iraqi university last summer over criticism of the Popular Mobilisation Units, the militia groups allied to the Iraqi army to fight Islamic State.