Man on cyber crime charge over Snapchat blackmail threat

Emirati man alleged to have told woman he would tell her mother of their relationship if she didn't continue to see him

The UAE's telecoms regulator defined which free calling apps could be used in the country.  AFP PHOTO / Eric BARADAT
The UAE's telecoms regulator defined which free calling apps could be used in the country.  AFP PHOTO / Eric BARADAT

A man is facing the prospect of jail after he was dumped and threatened to expose the secret relationship to his former friend’s mother.

The Emirati defendant had a relationship with the woman for a year and a half before she decided to end it, according to prosecutors.

But he found himself in trouble with police after he told her over Snapchat that “if you don’t go out with me, I will tell your mother”, Abu Dhabi Criminal Court heard.

He was charged under the UAE anti-cybercime law of threatening the woman using phrases that were classified as "offensive to her honour".

He was also accused of "beautifying the sin" - a charge given to any act that is considered un-Islamic, as he allegedly pushed the girl to go out with him, despite not having a legal relationship with her. Under Islamic law, a man and a woman who are not related to should not be in each other's company alone.

The court heard that the man had admitted sending the message, but denied possessing pictures of the accuser, as he had claimed when he allegedly tried to blackmail her.

"I lied," he said.

Shaima Al Ameri, his defence attorney, argued that her client was not aware of the weight of his words, as he suffered from severe brain damage due to a recent accident which also left him unable to walk.

She presented a medical file to the court to prove the extent of the medical issues.

Ms Al Ameri said her client did not mean to threaten the woman, but just wanted to know why she wanted to stop seeing him, and whether it was due to his disability.

He was detained in custody following a complaint, and faces a significant fine, a jail sentence of up to two years, or both, under the UAE cybercrime laws if he is found guilty.

"Her dumping him caused him a shock, and he was eager to see her to clear things out," Ms Al Ameri said.

"However, the accuser refused to go out with him, which drove him to say casually 'I will tell your mother if you don't meet me'.

"He obviously did not expect this sentence to put him in jail and a trial at the criminal court."

She added that the accuser did not expect the man to be locked up and to face criminal charges when she reported him.

"She thought he will just be scolded; she said she only wanted him to stop bothering her."

When the woman discovered the consequences of her complaint, she withdrew it, Ms Al Ameri said.

The court adjourned the case until Wednesday, September 18, when it will announce a verdict. The defendant was released on bail.

Updated: September 8, 2019 03:40 PM


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