A British-German national has been in detention in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for almost six months without charge, reports say.
Christian Wilke, 39, had been working as an IT teacher at a local school in the UAE before he was detained and taken to Al Ain prison in mid-2017.
His mother has launched an online petition, at the change.org, calling for her son’s immediate release.
It was not clear why Wilke has been detained. But the Middle East Monitor website cited the petition as indicating that he may have been arrested because of social media posts deemed insulting by UAE officials.
The petition also elaborates on the reportedly dire conditions at the detention facility. Wilke’s mother says her son was denied access to an attorney for 52 days after his arrest and that he has only been allowed to have five-minute phone calls under surveillance with his family.
The change.org petition website — banned in the UAE — has in over a week gathered more than 200,000 signatures for Wilke’s release.
Wilke’s mother has expressed concerns about his deteriorating health condition, saying that “he has lost 18 kilos of weight,” caught pneumonia and “has been denied adequate medical care.”
Since a law authorizing officials to monitor online activity was passed in the UAE in 2012, hundreds of people have been detained for posting political comments on social media, including 300 individuals in 2016.
In recent years, rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been widely criticizing the UAE’s judicial system for its violations of basic human rights and crackdown on cyber activities of both Emirati and non-Emirati citizens.
In most cases, foreign nationals arbitrarily imprisoned by UAE authorities, are only released after their home country intervenes.
In Wilke’s case, no immediate public comment was available either from the British or the German government.
In August 2017, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab revealed that the UAE had purchased Israeli malware capable of turning Apple’s iPhones into remote spying devices.
The malware was connected to NSO Group, an Israel-based cyber war company that sells Pegasus, a government-exclusive intercept spyware product.
It sends links to iPhone users in an attempt to gain access to the information on their device.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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