Skyline International asks for Twitter investigations in its UAE Office

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STOCKHOLM – Skyline International calls on Twitter to investigate the transparency of its regional office in UAE and the nature of its ties with regional governments and imposing restrictions on dissenting accounts.

Skyline International, a Stockholm and Madrid-based organization, states in a press statement that Twitter should assume its responsibility to identify violations of its regional headquarters in Dubai regarding freedom of opinion and expression against opponents of governments of regional countries.

Skyline also calls for an examination of an up-to-date information on high-level coordinations between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel on the prosecution and deletion of the accounts of human rights activists, journalists and opponents of those governments.

Information about secret meetings was held last month between the management of the technology platform HUB71, which was established by the UAE in March, and senior officials at the Twitter office in Dubai to discuss intensifying cooperation between the two sides.

UAE Targets Activists

It also points to the close cooperation between the Israeli company “NSO” and the UAE in targeting dozens of human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society activists in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East; the most prominent of these cases is the UAE activist Ahmed Mansour.

According to several investigations and human rights reports, the Israeli company hacked the phones of hundreds of activists around the world and spied on them for the benefit of their governments, putting their lives at risk, as well as arrest or enforced disappearance.

WhatsApp has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States against NSO for breaching Whatsapp by exploiting a security vulnerability.

The Israeli company is accused of being behind the infamous Pegasus infiltration program, which was used to infiltrate and spy on the detained Emirati activist Ahmed Mansour.

Skyline states that Twitter should realize that its regional headquarters in Dubai is subject to policies imposed by the UAE and its allied governments in the Middle East, which seriously threatens the security and safety of users.

Twitter office in the UAE

Twitter’s office in Dubai opened on August 19, 2015, as a regional office in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where people and various human rights organizations have repeatedly called for the office to be closed for its role in interfering in state policies, monitoring dissidents, and causing arrests.

Twitter recently responded to the growing criticism by lifting the ban on the accounts of opposition activists and human rights defenders, saying via its account that “mistakes can occur in our wide scope”, it stressed that it seeks to “apply its policies fairly and impartially”.

Skyline called on Twitter to open a prompt and effective investigation into the practices of its regional office in Dubai, including privacy violations that led to the killing and arrest of several activists, and to hold accountable all those involved in this case.

The international organization concluded its statement that Twitter must fulfil its obligations to protect and safeguard freedom of opinion and expression and to stop the platform from being affected by repressive governments’ practices against freedoms. In addition to providing space for influential accounts and hide opposition tags as well as electronic surveillance.

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