January 9th, 2014
10:32 AM ET

Shezanne Cassim, Once-Jailed American, Leaves the UAE

Shezanne Cassim, an American who was imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates after posting a video that parodied Dubai teens, has left the Gulf nation and is flying home to the United States, his family said.

Traveling with his father Sanath Cassim, Shezanne left Dubai early Thursday and is expected to arrive in Minneapolis, Minnesota, later in the day.

Shezanne's brother, Shervon Cassim, told CNN "my family and I are relieved and overjoyed that there is finally an end to this."

According to his family, Shezanne Cassim, of Woodbury, Minnesota, ended up serving nine months in prison - more than half of those before being charged - before his recent move to a deportation facility.

He had moved to Dubai in 2006 after graduating from college to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

His family says the 29-year-old was arrested in April after uploading a 19-minute video that pokes fun at a clique of Dubai teens influenced by hip-hop culture.

In December, he was sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of about $2,700. The charges were not read in court, but the country's main English-language newspaper reported that Cassim was accused of defaming the UAE's image abroad.

UAE officials would say only that Cassim "was charged under the UAE's penal code" and was "entitled to the fair trial protections contained in the UAE's constitution."

In the 1990s, the label "Satwa G" was coined for a group of suburban teens who were known to talk tougher than they really were.

Cassim's video depicts a "combat school" in the Dubai district of Satwa, where these "gangsters" are trained. The training includes how to throw sandals at targets, use clothing accessories as whips and how to call on the phone for backup.

Shervon Cassim previously told CNN his brother made the video "just for fun."

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. innerjuju

    While I doubt Mr. Cassim did anything wrong by U.S. standards, he was living in abroad in a country known for oppression of dissent views. I, too, lived abroad and worked for a large company. One of the first things they discuss in the assimilation classes is NOT to do anything that might land you in jail, particularly getting involved in the political arena- even in jest. (Apparently these Middle Eastern countries have little to no sense of humor.) I'm sorry that Mr. Cassim did just the opposite of what is taught and ended up paying an extremely high price for something "just for fun."

    January 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply

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