Monday, 20 May 2013

Indian Lecturer Held By Dubai Police For Defamation

Day of Silence 2007
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gulf News' Bassma Al Jandaly reports today on the case of an Indian university lecturer who has been held by Dubai police, while on a visit to the country, for defamation. Arrested on the 5th May, two weeks later he's still in Dubai, out on bail but with his visa held by police.

The lecturer worked for a "private university" in Dubai's Academic City. According to the story in GN, police confirmed the man had his contract terminated without reason by the university - Dubai courts found in his favour and he had received his end of service benefits.

However, returning to India, the lecturer appears to have indulged in the activity known as the grinding of the axe. I think I found his blog, which makes for highly entertaining reading and lets the university have it in no uncertain terms with remarkable vigour and an almost obsessive degree of staying power. Although comments are turned off and the YouTube videos have been made private, the rest of the content is up there and there is certainly plenty of 'masala' on offer.

The university's response was apparently to lodge a defamation case against the man at Rashidiya police station. And so when he travelled from the US, where he is based according to GN, to the UK and stopped off to see his Dubai-based wife, his collar was comprehensively felt.

In a rare moment of sheer cravenness I'm not going to link to his blog because I can't be entirely sure this is indeed the blog in question (given there are no names in the story, I found a blog that seems to fit the bill quite nicely by Googling "dubai university lecturer india end of service", as you would) and I'd rather not be joining him over at Rashidiya nick trying to defend myself against a charge of sharing links to material alleged to be defamatory.

It's interesting (and noteworthy bloggers, tweeters and all you other online commentators - as I pointed out in my last post, in fact) that in the UAE, defamation remains a criminal rather than civil matter. Now covered by the provisions of the UAE's cyber crime law, the mere accusation of online defamation has resulted in this man's liberty being taken from him. He can now look forward to a lengthy and expensive trial process unless the defamation case is dropped.

In choosing this course of action, I would argue that The University That Must Not Be Named has ensured greater reputational harm will ensue from this affair than if it had chosen not to pursue a criminal case of defamation in the UAE.

However, in the meantime, our lecturer friend would appear to be in rather a lot of hot water...
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