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Journalist detained over ‘hate speech’ following UAE-Iraq football match: WAM

Published: Updated:

A member of the media in the United Arab Emirates has been detained by authorities over charges relating to hate speech and violating public morals while covering a football match between the UAE and Iraq, state news agency WAM reported on Friday.

The news agency said the UAE’s Public Federal Prosecution for Cybersecurity Crimes had ordered the detention of member of the media and the release of others on bail after investigations.

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WAMsaid that while covering the match between the UAE and Iraq national teams last week on the Abu Dhabi Sports Channel before the broadcast went live, the accused were charged with committing an act and issuing a statement amounting to disorderly conduct, publishing through the internet.

The prosecution said it would violate public morals, harm the public interest, and incite hate speech.

Wam said the charges can carry a prison term of up to five years and up to a $136,000 (AED500,000) fine.

The Public Prosecution received a complaint from the Abu Dhabi Media against the two mentioned and a third unidentified person.

An audio and video clip circulated online showed the accused exchanging conversations while technical devices were being tested before the live broadcast on Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, and in the analytical studio before the match, uttering words and phrases which would "harm the public interest in the country", WAM reported.

The broadcast sent from the television production vehicle of the analytical studio to the broadcast reception unit in the TV building was hacked, and the published clips were seized and broadcast on some social media platforms on the internet.

After the Public Prosecution began investigating the accused and took the decisions, it summoned those responsible at the Abu Dhabi Sports Channel and programmes to complete the investigations.

The Public Prosecution asked the responsible technical authorities to determine how the hacking occurred and who conducted it. They ordered the arrest of the persons and seizure of the tools used and launched investigations into the incident.

The Abu Dhabi Media terminated the services of the three media professionals as a disciplinary measure for violating the Media Code of Honour, the ethics of the profession and their jobs.

The Public Prosecutor is following up on the investigations.

While no further information has yet been released, the statement seemed to refer to a game held between the two Middle East nations earlier this month.

The UAE played Iraq at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on October 12 in the third round of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

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