UAE briefly detains staff of US democracy group

Topics: From the Wires,

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — U.S. and other Western officials say United Arab Emirates authorities had temporarily detained several members of a U.S.-funded democracy group as they tried to leave the country after their office was ordered closed.

The officials say the group detained Thursday included the local director of the National Democratic Institute, or NDI, who was briefly held.

They say other staff members apparently were held longer and later released, the officials said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. It’s not immediately clear whether the UAE had released all detained members of the institute, which was ordered closed last week along with other foreign groups in the country.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates is defending its closure of a U.S.-funded pro-democracy group and other foreign institutions and says that licensing issues forced the move.



The state news agency WAM quotes an official as saying some groups violated the terms of their license and others did not have licenses.

Thursday’s terse statement by Abdul Rahim al-Awadhi, assistant UAE Foreign Minister for legal affairs, gave no other details.

In the past two weeks, the UAE closed branches of the German pro-democracy group Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute. The Washington-based polling organization Gallup also closed its Abu Dhabi office.

The moves brought widespread criticism by the UAE’s Western allies.

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