BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 3 (UPI) -- Most of the government critics sentenced to jail in the United Arab Emirates were isolated from legal counsel for nearly a year, Human Rights Watch said.
A high court in the United Arab Emirates convicted 69 people of plotting to overthrow the government. A report from Amnesty International released Tuesday said it appeared the convictions were politically motivated. The prosecution of suspected al-Qaida members in April sparked similar criticism.
Human Rights Watch said Wednesday nearly all of the accused were held in isolation at undisclosed locations for more than a year. Deputy director of Middle East programs Joe Stork said the convictions are a low point for the Emirati government.
"These unfair verdicts and the U.A.E.'s efforts to shut down criticism should be a wake-up call to U.A.E.'s international allies," he said in a statement from Beirut.
Prison sentences for the defendants ranged from seven to 15 years. Human Rights Watch said most of them were likely targeted for their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative Sunni political organization.