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UAE authorities re-arrest prominent academic

Nicosia: UAE authorities have re-arrested a prominent Emirati academic and rights activist, freed in a 2011 presidential pardon, a regional rights group said today.

Nasser Bin Ghaith, an economist who has lectured at the Abu Dhabi branch of the Sorbonne University, was arrested in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday and taken to an unknown location, said the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) in a statement.

It quoted “local sources” as saying that his tweets about Egypt, including the deadly dispersal of protesters in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, could be the reason behind his arrest.

“Rabaa will remain a symbol of resistance… On one side, and a symbol of shame… On the other,” he tweeted on August 14, the second anniversary of the killing of hundreds of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by Egyptian security forces in the square.

The United Arab Emirates has been a key backer of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who has been leading a crackdown on Islamists in Egypt.

Bin Ghaith was previously arrested in April 2011, with four other activists.

All were accused of insulting UAE leaders online, as well as calling for anti-government demonstrations and a boycott of elections for the UAE’s Federal National Council, an advisory body with no legislative powers.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who is also the ruler of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, pardoned the five in November the same year.