American Gets Prison Sentence for Comedy Video

Verdict for Shezanne Cassim and friends not actually read

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 23, 2013 12:07 PM CST

(Newser) – The UAE is very bad at taking a joke. The state security court in Abu Dhabi today sentenced three men—including American citizen Shezanne Cassim—to a year in prison for a goofy video they put online last year. The video, titled "Satwa G" is a mockumentary poking fun at Dubai's suburban hip-hop culture. These supposed "gangsters" teach the filmmakers how to use such deadly weapons as shoes and belts. "It was just for fun," Cassim's brother tells CNN.

But the UAE has a draconian cybercrime law that makes damaging the country's reputation online a jail-worthy offense, Reuters explains; last year a man got two years in jail for tweeting about a political trial. The Telegraph adds that the law was passed a month after the video was uploaded. Cassim, a 29-year-old who moved from Minnesota to Dubai for a job with PriceWaterhouseCooper, has already been jailed for eight months awaiting trial. His two Indian co-defendants also got a year, while two Emirati cohorts got off with roughly time served.

In this undated file photo provided by Shervon Cassim shows Shezanne Cassim of Woodbury, Minn.
In this undated file photo provided by Shervon Cassim shows Shezanne Cassim of Woodbury, Minn.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Shervon Cassim, File)
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This is the skit that got Cassim and his colleagues in trouble.   (YouTube)
CNN's report on the case.   (CNN)

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