We have previously discussed the common criminalization of speech found in Muslim countries (and the increasing criminalization seen in the West). The most recent victim is Ryan Pate, a civilian helicopter mechanic who was arrested for a derogatory comments made on Facebook in the United States toward his employer in the United Arab Emirates, Global Aerospace Logistics. After he returned to the United Arab Emirates, he was promptly arrested at the request of the company. This again is one of our closest allies that denies the basic protections of free speech not only to its citizens but even to Americans speaking in the United States.
The conflict with the company occurred in December 2012, when Pate was working as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter mechanic for Global Aerospace Logistics. He wanted to leave the company due to his back pain but Global Aerospace wanted a second opinion from a local physician. That promptly the angry Facebook response.
The Facebook statement is not clear but is reportedly rash and offensive. But that does not matter. It is speech. Bad speech to be sure, but still speech. It certainly could be the basis for termination depending on its content. However, Global Aerospace Logistics has reportedly sought to jail an American for speaking on Facebook. It is not clear if the company receives U.S. military grants or funding but this should be an issue that weighs heavily against such work — or contracts with private U.S. businesses. It website proclaims that “Global Aerospace Logistics is making a big impression” this year. That is certainly true. Just not a good impression.
Abu Dhabi police would not tell Pate, 30, why he had to come into the police station, but then arrested him under the Emerati cybercrimes law for slandering his employer. While free on bail, he is scheduled to stand trial March 17 and could face up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Five years in prison for writing something nasty about his employer while in the United States on Facebook.