Prosecutors in the UAE have reportedly dropped terrorism charges against two Libyan-Americans and a Libyan-Canadian who have been detained for 18 months.
Kamal and Mohamed al-Darrat and Salim Alaradi were informed of the decision on Monday, Mr Alaradi’s lawyer said. However, the men will now face lesser charges of providing supplies to groups in a foreign country and collecting donations without official permission. UN experts said last month that they were being arbitrarily detained.
There was evidence the three men and two other Libyans, Adel Rajab Nasef and Moad al-Hashmi, had been tortured and forced to sign confessions, they added.
All five men were arrested in August 2014, after which they were allegedly held incommunicado in secret detention locations and in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time. It was not until late 2015 that Mr Nasef and Mr Hashmi went on trial on the charge of funding, supporting and co-operating with terrorist organisations, while Mr Alaradi and Kamal and Mohamed al-Darrat were charged only in January 2016.
The alleged terrorist organisations were said to be Islamist militias that emerged during the 2011 revolution in Libya, including Libya Dawn and Ansar al-Sharia.
Last week, Mr Nasef and Mr Hashmi were acquitted by the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, a verdict that Mr Alaradi’s brother said had given him hope. But following Monday’s announcement, Mohamed Alaradi – who was detained alongside his brother for four months – told AP news agency that state prosecutors had “fabricated” the new charges to ensure a guilty verdict.
This showed the UAE’s state security department was “playing games”, he said. Kamal al-Darrat’s daughter, Amal, called the new charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, “deeply concerning”. Mr Alaradi and Kamal and Mohamed al-Darrat would remain in custody until 11 April, when their trial was scheduled to resume, Mr Alaradi’s lawyer said.