Dr. Alan Black, an American professor, was arrested last month for taking a picture of a sign banning photography. That act could send him to jail for five years. Various sites have been created to rally support for Roberts who is facing an absurdly harsh legal system and a rule against photography that can only be described as pathological.
Black was detained without a charge after he stopped and took the picture in the capital of the UAE. The case has highlighted the brutal conditions and lack of due process in the UAE. Black has been allowed no representation and was held in secret. He was allowed only two brief calls and, despite international obligations, it took two days before the UAE (or erstwhile ally) notified the American embassy of his arrest.
Black is reportedly an avid photographer and nothing more than that. One of his last pictures below was captioned “walking the streets of Abu Dhabi.” He was arrested the next day.
Despite our continued support for the UAE, our State Department in 2013 denounced the country for “arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, and lengthy pretrial detentions” as well as “police and prison guard brutality.” The Black case shows vividly that such criticism is, if anything, understated.
Black was lecturing at a conference in the city and should have shown greater judgment. However, the response from the UAE is draconian and absurd.
Under article 168 of the UAE Penal Code, anyone caught taking pictures of palaces, embassies and security facilities can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and subject to a large fine. Three years ago, a tourist was given a month in jail for simply taking photos of the presidential palace.
Putting aside the law itself, the abuse of basic due process rights in the UAE belies its assertion that it is a modern and developing nation. Black is an elderly professor with a penchant for photography and a lack of inhibitions. If the UAE cannot see that, it is engaging in willful blindness.
Source: Daily Mail