U alum to be released from UAE prison

by Tyler Gieseke

University of Minnesota alumnus Shezanne Cassim is set to be released from a United Arab Emirates prison after spending eight months in custody for posting a satirical video to YouTube, news sources report.

UAE authorities arrested Cassim in April, and he has sat behind bars since then, the Associated Press reported.

Cassim's family said UAE officials postponed his court date at least six times, the Star Tribune reported.

After a Dec. 22 court appearance, a judge ruled that Cassim had violated a law against cyber-related threats to national security, according to the Tribune. The YouTube video Cassim posted poked fun at teenage culture in Dubai. The judge sentenced Cassim to one year in prison, immediate deportation on release and a fine. 

Cassim is expected to be deported within the next few days, according to the AP. He has been credited with time spent in jail before the trial and has had his remaining time reduced for good behavior.

"This decision is not just wonderful news for Shezanne, his family and his friends, it is simply the right thing to do," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement. Klobuchar pushed for Cassim to be credited for time served. "Jailing this young man for months for posting a harmless video made absolutely no sense, especially in a country that prides itself on being a tolerant and just nation."