U of M grad back in Minnesota, says he won't return to Emirates


Shezanne Cassim of Woodbury is back in Minnesota, after his release from a United Arab Emirates prison where he'd been held for nine months.

FOX 9 reports Cassim, 29, said at an airport news conference Thursday he will not return to the UAE.

He was imprisoned for posting a parody video online mocking the would-be gangsters of Dubai. Cassim said Thursday he was convicted by a kangaroo court that had no evidence against him, FOX says.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was among those who aggressively pushed for Cassim’s release.

Cassim, a U.S. citizen, was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Dubai to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2006. His supporters said he was charged with endangering state security under a 2012 cybercrimes law, one of eight people convicted in December. Cassim was sentenced to one year in prison, a fine and deportation. The U.S. State Department said he got credit for time served and was given time off for good behavior.

Gulf Arab authorities have been cracking down on social media use, with dozens of people arrested for Twitter posts or social media campaigns deemed offensive. Cassim's documentary-style 19-minute video opens with text saying the video is fictional and not intended to offend. It pokes fun at pokes fun at a clique of Dubai teens influenced by hip-hop culture.

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