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More than 135 organisations demand UAE release rights activist Ahmed Mansoor

Rights advocates say they are 'gravely concerned for the health' of Mansoor, who was arrested in 2017
Ahmed Mansoor will turn 50 years old on 22 October (screen shot)

More than 135 human rights groups sent a letter to the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) demanding he free "unjustly imprisoned" human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor. 

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Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement released on Wednesday, said the group was "gravely concerned for the health" of Mansoor, who will turn 50 years old on 22 October. 

"As the UAE brazenly promotes itself as a tolerant and rights-respecting state, Ahmed Mansoor, the man who stood up for so many people unjustly imprisoned before him, stands to mark his 50th birthday in solitary confinement in deplorable conditions," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. 

"All over the world, organizations and individuals are joining forces to call on the UAE not to let Mansoor spend a third birthday in prison," Whitson said. 

Mansoor, an electrical engineer and poet, was convicted in May 2018. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $270,000 for insulting the country’s rulers.

He was arrested a year earlier on charges of publishing false information and rumours, promoting a sectarian and hate-incited agenda and using social media to "harm national unity and social harmony and damage the country's reputation".

HRW says that UAE authorities have held Mansoor in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

In 2015, Mansoor received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, an annual prize awarded in Geneva by a panel of international human rights organisations, for his work documenting the state of human rights in the UAE.

A trade and tourism hub, the UAE is an absolute monarchy, which tolerates little public criticism.