Briefs: Human rights advocates call for Woodbury man's release from Abu Dhabi prison

  • Updated: December 14, 2013 - 4:43 PM

Shezanne Cassim

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Local human rights advocates are calling on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to release Shezanne “Shez” Cassim, a former University of Minnesota student and Woodbury resident, who is being held in an Abu Dhabi prison.

Cassim was arrested in April 7 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), after uploading what has been characterized as a satirical comedy video to YouTube.

“We are shocked and perplexed by the UAE’s treatment of Cassim. In the days leading up to International Human Rights Day, we call on UAE government officials to uphold its commitment to international human rights standards and release this bright young man who they have unjustly detained,” said Barbara Frey, director of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Program, in a statement.

Supporters held a news conference on Dec. 10 at the University of Minnesota Law School urging his release and calling his detainment unwarranted and a violation of his freedom of expression.

Cassim attended Woodbury High School and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2006. His family still lives in the Twin Cities.

He was working in Dubai for a consulting firm at the time of his arrest, officials said. Cassim is being held in a maximum-security prison in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, officials said. He was arrested after posting the comedy video, which government officials argue endangered the UAE’s national security under a federal “Cyber Crimes Law.”



Bridge construction help for businesses

The Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce will launch a new business support program in January 2014 aimed at providing financial and marketing assistance to businesses affected by the St. Croix River bridge construction.

“Success 2014 is a consortium of financial and accounting businesses, printers and media companies that provide cash flow planning, lines of credit, loans and specially created marketing programs and discounts to businesses affected by St. Croix Crossing construction,” said Todd Streeter, the chamber’s executive director.

Businesses seeking help are not required to be chamber members, Streeter said.

Success 2014 will hold an informational seminar/fair in late January at the Valley Ridge Mall in Stillwater. For more information, e-mail, visit, or call 651-439-4001.


St. Croix region

Open house scheduled at headquarters office

An open house for the St. Croix River Association will be held Dec. 19 from 3-6 p.m. at its headquarters, 230 S. Washington St., St. Croix Falls, Wis.

The event will include a presentation by Gary Noren, “The River in All Seasons.”

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