A British man has been thrown into prison in Dubai for sharing a Facebook post.
Scott Richards, who has both British and Australian citizenship, works in Dubai as an economic development consultant, ABC reports.
But in his spare time he volunteers with the U.S.-based Zwan Family Charity, which distributes tarpaulins and blankets to the many people struggling in freezing cold conditions in the refugee camps of Afghanistan.
Mr Richards shared a Facebook post recommending a crowd-funding campaign to help refugees in these camps – called Warm Up Qambar Camp – and was arrested under strict new laws in the United Arab Emirates that forbid people from donating to or advertising charities not registered in the country.
The 42-year-old father of two’s family have called for his release. His mum, Penelope Haberfield, told ABC her son was only a volunteer and wasn’t actually fundraising. She added: “It’s the indefinite detention, it can go on for months, years.”
Mrs Haberfeld also says her son has only been allowed to make limited phone calls, and that he only sees his wife once a week. “It’s not nice. They only get 10 minutes of sunshine once a week”, she continued. “As his mother I’m not prepared to give up.”
— Matt Farmer (@ozwonderdog) August 17, 2016
Detained in Dubai, who help foreigners arrested in the country, are looking into Mr Richards’ case. Their chief executive Radha Stirling said that under the country’s judicial system he could be held indefinitely, adding: “It can be months before he is officially charged and a court date will only be assigned once they agree to prosecute.”
Detained in Dubai released a statement in which they said he was being kept in ‘appalling conditions’:
He has not been able to meet with his legal representative and has very limited access to telephone.
We do not expect that there will be any change to his detention and the Prosecuting Judge can, if he chooses, grant further extensions to his detention.
Mr Richards could be jailed for up to one year for the offence, with a fine of 100,000 dihams (about £20,000).
You can help spread the message by signing the petition to free him and sharing his story. No one should face jail time for supporting a charity.