UAE releases Lebanese detainees after death in custody raises allegations of mistreatment

BEIRUT (AP) — A group of Lebanese citizens detained in the United Arab Emirates have been released, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday.

Lebanon’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates has informed the ministry of the release of 10 Lebanese detainees who were arrested there about two months ago, the ministry said in a statement.

The release comes after the death earlier this month of a Lebanese man detained in the United Arab Emirates on unknown charges. A committee of family members of Lebanese citizens detained in the United Arab Emirates alleged in a statement that Ghazi Ezzedine, 55, died under torture, and rights groups raised concerns about the lack of Emirati government transparency regarding Ezzedine’s case and related detentions.

Emirati authorities have not commented on the case or the release of the other detainees.

Afif Shouman, leader of a group of Lebanese families whose relatives are being held in the Gulf country, said seven Lebanese citizens remain in detention in the United Arab Emirates, none of whom have been convicted of a crime, and called for their release.

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have detained dozens of mostly Shia Lebanese in the past for alleged links to the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The UAE, like other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

In 2019, the United Arab Emirates sentenced a Lebanese national to life in prison and two to ten years in prison for links to Hezbollah.

Amnesty International said in a statement at the time that the men’s trial “did not meet international standards for fair trial” because the evidence included confessions which had been “extracted under duress, and the defendants were held incommunicado for months and denied access to lawyers during questioning and investigation”.

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