- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2015

American Ryan Pate will go to trial in in the United Arab Emirates for “cyberslander” and could be sentenced to five years in prison. His crime: complaining about his bosses on Facebook.

The Florida helicopter mechanic from Belleair Bluffs took to Facebook while in the U.S. and called his UAE employers at Global Aerospace Logistics “backstabbers.”

When he returned to the country Feb. 16, he was arrested, charged, stripped of his passport, and spent 10 days in jail before being released on bail. He now has a March 17 court date.

“The prosecutor told me there was definitely going to be a fine. I’m not sure what the total fine is going to be. That’s entirely up to the judge. But there’s a fine, possible prison time, and possible deportation. But it really all rests upon what the judge wants to do with the situation,” Mr. Pate told CNN on Thursday. “What I said was very wrong. I apologize for it.”

“The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is in contact with [Pate] and providing all possible consular assistance,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Thursday.

“I just couldn’t register it in my head because as an American growing up in the United States, the First Amendment right is just ingrained in my brain,” Mr. Pate told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “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.”

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