US citizen's Facebook rant over sick leave lands him in jail

Mr Pate's dispute with his employer began in December last year when he sought to extend his holiday to see a doctor about a long-standing back injury.

A United States citizen could end up in jail following a rant on Facebook over sick leave, BBC reports.

Helicopter mechanic Ryan Pate had written a vent post on Facebook while in Florida after arguing with his employer Global Aerospace Logistics (GAL) over sick leave.

However, upon returning to Abu Dhabi from Florida, he was arrested for breaking the country's strict cyber-slander laws.

His trial is due to start on March 17th and he could face up to five years in jail and a large fine if found guilty.

Mr Pate's dispute with his employer began in December last year when he sought to extend his holiday to see a doctor about a long-standing back injury. After being denied the extension, Mr Pate posted a rant about the Abu Dhabi-based firm on his Facebook page calling them "backstabbers" and warned other contractors about working for the firm.

Gal also reportedly complained about life in the UAE and used a racial slur against the people.

Upon his return to Abu Dhabi in order to resign, Gal was called by police who told him to report to a nearby police station where he was shown screenshots of the Facebook message and told his employer had filed charges accusing him of breaking wide-ranging Emirates laws that ban slander.

The UAE slander laws were introduced in late 2012 and its an offence to use the net to mock or deride organisations and individuals.

Reacting to the incident, Pate said:

"I never even entertained the fact that I would wind up in prison out here for something I put on Facebook in the United States"

MeanwhilePate's cause has been taken up by his congressman David Jolly who has contacted the US State Department and the UAE attorney general seeking to get the case quashed. Mr Pate's fiancee has also began an online effort to raise funds to pay his legal fees.

Mr Pate was arrested on 16th February and spent about 10 days in jail. He has now been released on bail prior to the trial later this month.

Said Pate:

"I just want to apologise to everybody I dragged into this, it is embarrassing, and I never meant for this to happen. I let my emotions get the better of me."

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