Foreign intelligence agents charged with defaming the UAE on social media

Security agent from GCC country was on ‘military mission’ when he bought local Sim cards for his manager, court hears.

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ABU DHABI // A social media agent from a GCC country was ordered to spread false information and pictures offensive to the UAE as part of a “military mission”, the Federal Supreme Court has heard.

H H, 33, and four other agents who are being tried in their absence in the court’s State Security Division, are accused of defaming the UAE on Twitter and Instagram by posting insulting pictures of its symbols and Rulers.

Prosecution said the defendant had been sent by his senior officer to buy five Etisalat Sim cards and put on Dh5,000 of credit for roaming services on each.

“The group used Emirati Sims, claiming they were locals, to show that Emiratis had offended their own leaders,” the prosecutor said.

“The defendant already confessed that he had purchased them for his manager, J H. He entered the country from Al Ghuwaifat exit and bought the Sims from a shop on Al Sila border.”

The court heard the five were working for state security in their country, which cannot be named for legal reasons.

The agent handed the cards to his manager and they were used in several phones to post insulting pictures and spread false news online, the court was told.

The prosecutor showed a video in which the defendant confessed to buying the Sims. It also showed him walking into the shop where he bought them.

The five Sims are under men’s names – two from Bangladesh, two Pakistanis and a Filipino.

The prosecutor said investigators found three phones – a Samsung, an iPhone and a BlackBerry – with the images.

One had also been used for a WhatsApp chat with someone called Abu Shaheen, who was helping the user to download editing programs for the pictures used.

“They are police officers and they know of the dangers and implications of such a crime. We call for the maximum penalty,” the prosecutor said.

Judge Falah Al Hajeri allowed H H to speak after the prosecution presented their argument.

The defendant said he was not allowed to ask about the use of the Sim cards and was “threatened with a military trial” if he did not comply with the order.

He said he did not know how the numbers were used and was on leave for two and a half months after the mission.

“I got the order late at night, and was on the road soon after,” he said. “As soon as I had made my purchase, I handed J H the recharged Sims.

“I asked him for reasons but was told not to discuss it with him, and he did not tell me if it was for personal or work related use. I do not manage the account and I have never seen the pictures. The only time I saw them was during interrogation.”

The court heard the material appeared under Twitter handles @bo3skor101, @bo3skor2021, and @northsniper, and Instagram accounts under the names of @bo3skor1011 and @9ip.

The case was adjourned to April 27, when the defence will present its argument.