Seven employees of Gulf airline Emirates have been accused of spying on behalf of Hezbollah to plot a terror attack on the United Arab Emirates. The seven have been held for a year and, according to Human Rights Watch, have been subjected to considerable levels of physical and psychological duress.
One Mile at a Time reports that eight Lebanese nationals – seven of whom are employed by Gulf carrier Emirates – have been held by authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for more than a year after they were accused of collaborating with Hezbollah to plot a terrorist attack.
According to Gulf News, the seven, reported to be long-serving staff members at the airline, are, “…charged with setting up a terrorist cell and planning terrorist attacks in the UAE upon the orders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. “
Their case was heard in Abu Dhabi’s Court of Appeals back in February, where prosecutors for the state also, “…accused the cell members residing in the UAE of communicating with Hezbollah in favor of Iran and collecting sensitive security information from the UAE’s ports and airports, where Hezbollah agents filmed sensitive places that are not allowed to be photographed.”
One Mile at a Time reports that these videos were then passed on to Iran’s intelligence service. But while the accused are facing very serious allegations, concerns have been raised over how they have been treated by authorities in the UAE during their time in custody. According to Human Rights Watch, the relatives of the men have stated that “…the defendants, who face terrorism charges, have been held in prolonged solitary confinement and denied access to their families, legal counsel, and the evidence against them.”
In some cases, the men appear to have been subjected to physical abuse and sleep deprivation.
Offering her comments in a statement, Sarah Leah Whitson, the organization’s Middle East director, said, “The UAE authorities reveal in their treatment of these men just how unwilling they are to reform their unjust state security apparatus. These men deserve, at the very least, to be treated humanely and to receive a fair trial.”
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