An American citizen living in Dubai was sentenced to up to a year in prison by a court in the United Arab Emirates on Monday. Shezanne Cassim, an American citizen from Minnesota, and seven others, were found guilty of “defaming the UAE’s image abroad” in a parody documentary shot in the country, according to the National.
In the opening moments of the video titled “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs” a disclaimer flashes reading: "The following events are fictional and no offence was intended to the people of Satwa or UAE." Here’s more on the video via CNN:
The video in question is a 19-minute short that pokes fun at a clique of Dubai teens who are influenced by hip-hop culture. In the 1990s, the label "Satwa G" was coined for a group of suburban teens who were known to talk tougher than they really were. The video depicts a look at a "combat school" in the suburb of Satwa, where these "gangsters" are trained. The training includes how to throw sandals at targets, using clothing accessories as whips, and how to call on the phone for backup.
Cassim moved to Dubai in 2006 to work from PricewaterhouseCoopers and posted the video online last year. In April, Cassim was arrested and, according to his family, has been in prison ever since. CNN reports that Cassim has been held in a maximum-security prison in Abu Dhabi and his family says it was five months before Cassim even learned what crime he was being charged with. Cassim is the first to be charged under a 2012 cybercrime law that, the BBC reports, “provides a legal basis to prosecute people who use information technology to criticise senior officials, argue for political reform or organise unlicensed demonstrations.”