It was designed as a piece of comedy, but turned out into an agonizing jail drama.
A young American living in the United Arab Emirates has been jailed since April, his family said, for having published a comedy video on the net.
Now the family of Shezanne "Shez" Carroll wants to draw attention to his case before a hearing on December 16.
The video in question is a 19-minute short parody that mocks an adolescent Dubai clique are influenced by the hip-hop culture. In the 1990s, the label 'Satwa G' was given to a group of suburban teenagers who have been known to appear and talk tough than they really were.
The video shows at a glance a "school battle" in the suburbs of Satwa, where these "gangsters" are trained. The training includes how to throw sandals against targets, using clothing accessories as whips, and how to call for backup with a phone.
"It's as if someone in the United States makes a parody vidoe of a hippie from Brooklyn and gets thrown in jail for that and then held in prison for months without bail," the brother of Cassim, Shervon Cassim, said. "This is what is happening here."
The Carroll family said Shez, 29, has been charged with endargering national security, but they have not been informed of any specifics in the video that got him arrested.
The authorities of the United Arab Emirates have not responded to requests for more details on the charge Carroll is being held for and why.
"It is just a funny comedy video. And he is being treated as a kind of dangerous, high-security criminal and is kept in a maximum security jail, said Shervon Cassim of his brother.
Shez Carroll has lost a lot of weight, but is otherwise in good physical condition, his brother said.
Carroll, of Woodbury, Minnesota, moved to Dubai in 2006 after college to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
He and a few friends made and posted the video online in 2012. He was arrested in April 2013.
According to the family, Carroll and eight friends were charged under a cybercrime law for disturbing public order. This law, the family indicated, was passed long after the video had been released.
Two attempts by a counsel for Carroll to release him on bail have been rejected.
The US Department of State currently provides consular services to Carroll, an official with the department said, and attended all hearings.
"The United States Embassy and the Consulate general are committed with their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates to push a trial and judgment that is just and convenient", said the official. "
Satwa G, the family said in a statement, were known as wanna-be gangsters, and were so portrayed by Carroll.
"These 'gangstas' were known for their decisively soft behavior and were regarded as the opposite of real criminals", the statement said. "The fictional training represented in the video teaches the techniques that include the best way to strike a target with a sandal and, finally, how to use a mobile phone in the event of trouble."
At the last hearing, the judge asked for an Arabic translation of the video, giving the family a little hope that the authorities might realize that it was a parody.
"I just want my son home for Christmas," said the mother of Carroll, Jean Cassim, in a statement. He is a good young man with a great career and has never been in trouble. Now he is detained without reason."
American travelers in foreign countries are subject to the laws of these countries, and there is a limit to what help they can get from the Embassy or US Consulate.
Officials of the diplomatic corps of the United States "cannot represent you in judicial proceedings or pay your legal fees or other costs. But they can perform such vital services like provide a list of lawyers, help to contact your family or help your family to send money, and monitor your health and your well-being ", a State Department official said.
Watch out for you decade old videos before you travel to Dubai!!
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