Minneapolis man jailed in UAE for parody video returns home

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Minneapolis, MN, United States (4E) – A Minneapolis man held at a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi for nine months for posting online a parody video about Emirati youths returned home Thursday.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, of Woodbury, arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in the afternoon and told waiting reporters he is innocent of the charges of defaming the United Arab Emirates with his “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” which made fun of Dubai youths imitating “gangsta” style.

Cassim claimed a kangaroo court tried him and he was convicted without evidence. The trial and his incarceration showed how the United Arab Emirates is afraid of democracy, he said.

Cassim is a U.S. citizen born in Sri Lanka and had moved to Dubai to work. The graduate of University of Minnesota and seven co-accused were arrested in April and he was imprisoned in June. In December, he and the other defendants were convicted of endangering state security under a 2012 cybercrimes law that tightened penalties for challenging authorities.

Cassim was sentenced to one year in prison, a fine and deportation. He got credit for time served in prison and was given time off for good behavior, according to the U.S. State Department.

Cassim was among the people arrested in the Middle East for alleged social media abuse, including tweeting insults to leaders and posting of political propaganda online.

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