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McCollum: United Arab Emirates Should Immediately Release Minnesotan Shezanne Cassim from Jail

December 10, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) issued the following statement regarding the imprisonment of Mr. Shezanne Cassim of Woodbury, MN in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for posting a spoof YouTube video.  At a time when Dubai is hosting an international film festival and was recently awarded the Expo 2020 World Fair, the imprisonment of an American and his friends for posting a satirical video on-line exposes the UAE’s intellectual repression and disdain for free speech.

“It is appalling that Shezanne Cassim continues to be imprisoned in the UAE for the crime of posting an innocent video on YouTube.  The authorities of the UAE should release him from prison immediately.  This incident exposes the fact that intellectual freedom and free speech, which are basic human values, do not exist in the UAE regardless of how many Western businesses and American universities are seduced by petrol dollars to locate there.”

“Americans in the UAE beware – your words and ideas can get you imprisoned indefinitely.”

Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations Committee.  She is Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.