Dubai: 15 minutes of YouTube fame gets American one year in the slammer

Published December 23rd, 2013 - 05:29 GMT
A screenshot from a satirical comedy video called “Satwa Combat School.” The video on YouTube has landed an American citizen and two Emiratis in prison for violating the United Arab Emirates’ cybercrime laws. [YouTube]
A screenshot from a satirical comedy video called “Satwa Combat School.” The video on YouTube has landed an American citizen and two Emiratis in prison for violating the United Arab Emirates’ cybercrime laws. [YouTube]

An American jailed in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly threatening national security with a parody video was sentenced Monday, officials said.

Shezanne Cassim, who has been in jail since April, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined about $27,000 for posting on the Internet what his family said was meant to be a funny video, CNN reported.

The 19-minute video lampoons certain Dubai teens influenced by hip-hop culture. The video portrays a "combat school" in the Dubai suburb of Satwa where the teen "gangsters" are trained, among other things, in how to throw sandals at targets and using clothing accessories as whips.

The video was posted online in 2012, CNN said. Cassim was arrested in April.

Cassim's family says the 29-year-old man was charged with endangering national security, but they never were told how the video endangered security. Authorities in the United Arab Emirates claim the video violated cyber crime laws but Cassim's family told CNN the law wasn't passed until after the video was released.

The charges were not read out in court, CNN said.

Cassim, from Woodbury, Minn., moved to Dubai in 2006 after graduating college to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Cassim's brother, Shervon Cassim, said Shezanne had made the video for fun.

"It was just for fun. It was -- he's a big fan of sketch comedies," the brother said, noting Cassim was a fan of "Saturday Night Live" and "Funny or Die."


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