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UAE rejects UN concerns that Ahmed Mansoor may have been subjected to torture

UN experts concerned high-profile activist is being treated poorly in prison and confined to solitary confinement
Mansoor is a prominent dissident in UAE who won international human rights award in 2015 (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates rejected concerns by UN rights officials that high-profile activist Ahmed Mansoor may have been subjected to torture, state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.

"The United Arab Emirates affirms that the recent claims that Mr. Ahmed Mansoor is on hunger strike are false, as nutritious meals have been offered to him regularly in accordance with the schedule of daily meals offered to guests. He has also been receiving routine medical check-ups," a spokesperson for the UAE's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva said, according to Wednesday’s WAM article.

UN human rights experts released a letter on Tuesday expressing serious concerns about Mansoor’s treatment, alleging that he has been treated poorly in prison, including being confined in solitary confinement.

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“According to reports at our disposal, throughout his deprivation of liberty, Mr. Mansoor has been kept in solitary confinement, and in conditions of detention that violate basic international human rights standards and which risk taking an irrevocable toll on Mr. Mansoor’s health,” said the seven experts, who include Agnes Callamard, lead UN investigator into Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

They went on to say that Mansoor had not received a fair trial.

Mansoor, a 49-year-old electrical engineer and poet, was convicted in May 2018 and fined $270,000 for insulting the country’s rulers.

He was arrested in March 2017 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".

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.