U graduate sentenced to year in prison for YouTube parody
- Blog Post by: Corey Mitchell
- December 23, 2013 - 5:05 PM
A United Arab Emirates judge sentenced former Minnesota resident Shezanne “Shez Cassim” today to a year in prison for posting a mock documentary to YouTube.
Officials in the Gulf Region nation said Cassim's video violated the federal cyber crimes laws and posed a threat to national security.
It was immediately unclear whether the 29-year-old will receive credit for the eight-plus months he has already spent in prison.
"We and the attorneys are still waiting for confirmation," said Cassim's brother, Shervon Cassim.
A U.S. citizen, Shezanne Cassim has lived and worked in Dubai since graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2006.
Authorities in Dubai jailed Cassim and several friends in April because of the parody video about teen culture in Satwa, a district in Dubai. They were transferred to a prison in Abu Dhabi in June.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Michael Corbin, tried to secure Cassim’s release but efforts thus far have been unsuccessful.
"We wanted him to be released and come home," Shervon Cassim said. "This is not justice."
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates plan to deport Shezanne Cassim once he completes his prison sentence.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, said Cassim's sentencing is "an appalling attack on intellectual freedom and basic human rights."
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said: "The [United Arab Emirates] holds itself out to be among the most tolerant and just nations in the region, but this sentence is unjust and unreasonable."
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