An American mechanic was thrown into jail in the United Arab Emirates for a critical Facebook post that he wrote while he was in the US, The Tampa Tribune reports.
Ryan Pate, 30, has been charged in the UAE with cyber slander against his employer and cyber slander against management for a Facebook post that is protected by the First Amendment in the US. He is scheduled to stand trial, and he faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
In the Facebook post (which The Tampa Tribune doesn’t publish in full), Pate reportedly made disparaging comments about Arabs and his employer in the UAE, a company called Global Aerospace Logistics.
When he returned to the UAE, he says, he was asked to report to a police station.
Pate is currently free on bail and admitted that he “wasn’t as tactful as [he] could have been.” He said he was just trying to warn people against working for his company, according to The Tribune. Pate also reportedly made comments about “filthy Arabs.”
He said he wanted to leave his company because he was having back problems, which a US doctor attributed to his work. But his company wanted a second opinion from a doctor in the UAE. Pate got angry when the company froze his pay.
Pate’s fiancee has started a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his legal costs. The page says Global Aerospace Logistics’ response to Pate’s health issues was “heartless” and that one of Pate’s coworkers saw his Facebook post, waited until he returned to the UAE, and then went to police.
The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $US15,000 toward its goal of $US45,000 to cover Pate’s defence.
It’s apparently a sticky legal situation; Pate’s fiancee said even the US embassy wasn’t sure how to handle Pate’s case.
Business Insider reached out to Global Aerospace Logistics for comment and will update this post if we hear back.
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