Last updated: 7 January, 2014

US expects UAE to free citizen after YouTube arrest

The United Arab Emirates is expected shortly to free an American who was jailed with others over a YouTube video that mocked Dubai teenagers.

Shezanne Cassim, a 29-year-old from Minnesota, will likely be freed within days, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“We have received word that Mr. Cassim has been moved to a deportation facility for processing. We understand processing will take a few days at which point he will be returning to the United States,” she said.

Psaki said that Cassim was allowed to leave on account of good behavior as well as time he spent in detention before his trial.

The 19-minute video, called the “Satwa Comedy School,” gently parodies Dubai teenagers from the city’s Satwa district who styled themselves as tough “gangstas” wearing hip-hop clothes and listening to rap music, but who in reality were known for very mild behavior.

In the mock documentary, Cassim and his friends learn the latest techniques of “Satwa G’s combat” which include the correct way to throw a shoe at a newspaper, and how in extreme cases to use a mobile phone to call for back-up.

Cassim, a naturalized US citizen born in Sri Lanka who worked for the multinational company PricewaterhouseCoopers, has lived in the United Arab Emirates since 2006.

The newspaper The National said that Cassim was also fined 10,000 dirhams ($2,725) after being charged with endangering the security of the United Arab Emirates over the video.

The newspaper said that two Indian defendants received similar punishments and that two Emirati brothers, who were already behind bars, were jailed for eight months and each fined 5,000 dirhams ($1,362).

The United Arab Emirates has generally close relations with the United States and Dubai has fashioned itself as an international hub.