The United Arab Emirates has denied Lebanon’s embassy officials the right to meet with 11 Lebanese citizens arrested in the Persian Gulf state over ties to the resistance movement Hezbollah, a media report says.
According to a report by Al-Akhbar, the UAE is blocking diplomatic efforts to secure the release of these Lebanese nationals, who are in prison for two separate cases.
In the first case, three Lebanese citizens Ali Hassan al-Mubdar, Abdullah Hani Abdullah, and Ahmad al-Makkawi have been jailed since 2015 on charge of disclosing the UAE government’s “secrets” to Hezbollah.
In a video message in October 2018, al-Makkawi said he had been severely tortured by UAE officials, and called for an international probe into the issue.
However, the Lebanese embassy’s request to meet the detainees in Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Prison was rejected by authorities, who said such a meeting needed the prosecutor’s permission.
The prosecutor in January rejected the Lebanese embassy’s second request for a meeting, citing “national security” concerns.
In the second case, the UAE claims the eight Lebanese citizens have engaged in establishment of a Hezbollah “cell” in the Persian Gulf country.
The eight detainees have been imprisoned since February 2018, and the Lebanese government has failed to receive any information about their conditions.
During the past few years, Emirati officials have in numerous cases arrested, tried, and imprisoned individuals from Lebanon and other Arab states on charge of being linked to the Hezbollah resistance group, a key part of Lebanon’s politics.
The UAE is criticized by human rights organizations for not having any democratically-elected institutions, disappearances of foreign nationals and Emirati citizens, numerous instances of torture in incarceration, and denying prisoners’ right to a speedy trial and access to counsel.