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Detained in Dubai Calls for Immediate Release of Robert Black

CBS News (USA) (AP): American man, 70, arrested in United Arab Emirates over photo:

Daily Mail (UK): American grandfather, 70, faces five years in jail in Arab Emirates for taking picture of 'no photography' sign - and was held in secret for a week by police in jail where diabetic's health is 'at risk'

Radha Stirling, Founder of Detained in Dubai:

“We understand that Robert Black, architect-creative thinker, a 70-year-old American, has been arrested for taking a photograph of a “No photography” sign in Abu Dhabi, UAE, or comparable, while attending a conference. We also understand that he is currently being held at the notorious Al-Wathba prison. While we do not yet have full details on the case, we call for his immediate release.”

“In this prison context especially, we are very concerned about Mr. Black’s health and safety. The prison is known for severe overcrowding in prison cells, and even human right violations, lashings and torture. People should be reminded that the UAE is a country in the Arabian Gulf bordering Saudi Arabia, it has a dictatorship not a democracy, and foreign visitors face a full range of unfamiliar threats.”

“We call upon the UAE government to take into account Mr. Black’s age and cultural background regarding his photography. The UAE has positioned itself as an international convention, tourist, and cultural destination— with a strong emphasis on promotion of all kinds to the West at a scale that is unprecedented. At detainedindubai, after advising on many similar cases, it is clear to us that the UAE is a country with very, very different laws. However, as appears in Mr Black’s case, travelers like him are completely unaware of these laws, sometimes making the UAE a dangerous sandtrap for visiting Westerners.”

National governments need to properly warn their citizens

“We call on national governments to immediately initiate a communications campaign to properly warn their citizens of the unusual and unexpected risks of stopping over, vacationing, doing business, investing, etc. in the UAE until the country modernizes its laws. At the same time, we call on the UAE government to issue “Do’s and don’ts” cards on flights to the UAE, now including details about photography laws in the country, associated fines, expected detention and jail terms. This would parallel the country’s full-on initiatives to attract foreign visitors, vacationers, employees, etc. Until the UAE modernizes its laws, we very strongly advise all foreign nationals to avoid travel to and through the UAE, because the risks are simply not worth it.”


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