Jan. 9 - American citizen Shezanne Cassim arrived in the United States, after he was released from jail in the United Arab Emirates after serving nine months for posting a parody video on YouTube. Sarah Irwin reports.
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After nine months in jail in the United Arab Emirates, American citizen Shezanne Cassim arrives in Minneapolis a free man. SOUNDBITE: Shezanne Cassim, saying: "I did nothing wrong. There was nothing illegal about the video even under UAE law. I was tried in a textbook kangaroo court and I was convicted without any evidence." 29-year-old Cassim was sentenced to a year in jail for posting a parody video on YouTube. His 20-minute "mockumentary" - which opened with a disclaimer that the video was fiction - poked fun at young Emirati men who imitate the U.S.'s hip-hop culture. Last April, he was sentenced to a year in jail - but released after serving nine months - which is customary in the UAE. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed the move. SOUNDBITE: U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, saying: "We have continuously pressed for a fair and expedient resolution as we were deeply concerned by the verdict." Cassim was charged with violating the Gulf country's cybercrimes law and was fined 10,000 dirhams - or about three thousand U.S. dollars. SOUNDBITE: Shezanne Cassim, saying: "My opinion is that due to the political situation there, they are scared of democracy. They wanted to send a message to the UAE public, saying that, look at what we do to people who do just a silly YouTube video. This is what we do to people who do such a video. So, imagine if you do something that is actually critical of the government. So, it's a warning message and we are scapegoats." Last year, an Abu Dhabi court in the UAE jailed a man for two years for tweeting about a political trial.
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