UAE Releases American Jailed Over Comedy Video

Shezanne Cassim set to arrive in US today
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2014 9:17 AM CST
UAE Releases American Jailed Over Comedy Video
This undated file photo provided by Shervon Cassim shows his brother Shezanne Cassim of Woodbury, Minn.   (uncredited)

An American man has been released from prison in the United Arab Emirates where he had been held for nine months for posting a parody video online, a rep for his family said today, noting he will arrive at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this afternoon. It was not immediately clear when he was released from prison. Shezanne Cassim, 29, of Woodbury, Minn., was arrested in April, and had been held at a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi since June in connection with the video, which poked fun at Dubai youth who style themselves like "gangstas."

The UAE-owned daily, The National, has said Cassim and his co-defendants were accused of defaming the country's image abroad. Cassim's supporters said he was charged with endangering state security under a 2012 cybercrimes law that tightened penalties for challenging authorities. He and seven others were convicted in December, and Cassim was sentenced to one year in prison, a fine, and deportation. He became the public face of the defendants after his family launched an effort to publicize his incarceration. The US State Department said he got credit for time served and was given time off for good behavior. (More United Arab Emirates stories.)

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