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Five jailed United Arab Emirates activists pardoned

Five UAE activists jailed for 'insulting the country's leaders' have been pardoned.

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(Antler)

Five political activists, who were arrested in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly insulting rulers, were pardoned on Monday, a day after their conviction, the BBC reported.

The activists, who include a blogger and an economist, were arrested in April after they signed an online petition calling on UAE rulers to introduce direct elections and give parliament legislative powers, the BBC reported. They also called for protests, which lead to their arrest, Reuters reported.

After being on trial since June, they were given prison terms of up to three years on Sunday before they were pardoned. The five activists were on hunger strike for two weeks ahead of their convictions, Reuters reported.

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"The president issued a decree pardoning all of them," their lawyer, Mohammed al-Roken, told Reuters. "I hope they will be released before the end of the day."

One of the defendants, Ahmed Mansoor, a communications engineer and poet, was accused of running a website that allowed his fellow defendants to express their views, Al Jazeera reported. The court ordered the website to be shut down. Mansoor was arrested with economist Nasser bin Gaith, who lectures at the Abu Dhabi branch of the Sorbonne University, and activists Fahid Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali Khamis and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, Al Jazeera reported.

Charges against the five of them included undermining national security and insulting the country’s leadership, the BBC reported.

According to Reuters, the UAE president also pardoned over 550 people, jailed mostly for check-related offenses, ahead of the holiday marking the foundation of the country.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/111128/jailed-united-arab-emirates-activists-receive-pardon