Freedom of Expression




Ahmed Mansoor — known as the last human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before he was detained in March 2017 — is facing a 10-year jail sentence for speaking out on social media about human rights violations in his country. He is being held in solitary confinement, with no bed or running water, and has faced beatings and other forms of abuse. He is currently protesting these conditions through a hunger strike, still fighting in whatever ways he can for fundamental rights. On October 22, Ahmed will spend his 50th birthday behind bars, but we are letting him know he is not alone. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Sign Ahmed’s birthday card. Access Now and our partners around the world are gathering messages of support for Ahmed. You can send your note on this page, and we’ll present them at the UAE embassy for delivery. You can also share your #BirthdayWishes4Ahmed on social media.
  2. Tell the UAE government to #FreeAhmed. Add your voice to the global call for the immediate release of Ahmed Mansoor and all other prisoners of conscience by tweeting at UAE President @MohamedBinZayed and Prime Minister @HHShkMohd.
  3. Join a protest. If you are in London, New York, Washington, D.C., or Toronto, you can join us and our partners in person outside UAE government offices to demand Ahmed’s release.

Ahmed’s case is a heartbreaking example of the threats bloggers and journalists face in the UAE and around the world. Before his arrest in 2017, he was subject to a series of government hacking attempts using elite spyware from surveillance-tech producer NSO Group, earning him the nickname of “the million dollar dissident.”

UAE leaders have declared 2019 the “Year of Tolerance,” promoting diversity, pluralism, openness, and dialogue. The country is also preparing to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, which bills itself as a place to “build a better world” and showcase “the UAE’s values of inclusion, tolerance and cooperation.” This is an important opportunity for the country to reverse course on its imprisonment of human rights defenders like Ahmed Mansoor, and we need to hold them accountable to these commitments.

More than 40 civil society organizations from around the world are working together for Ahmed’s release. Ahmed has dedicated his life to defending the rights of others, speaking out even when it cost him his freedom. Now we ask you to join us in speaking out for him.


Write your birthday message for UAE human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor here. Your name and other information will not be added unless you include it directly in your message.