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United Arab Emirates to try 94 accused of trying to seize power

By CNN Staff
January 29, 2013 -- Updated 0839 GMT (1639 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Most of the suspects were detained in September and are only now being charged
  • Government accuses them of meeting in secret, using social media to stir unrest
  • Some arrested are allegedly part of al-Islah; government links them to Muslim Brotherhood
  • Some group members say they're activists, but distance themselves from other groups

(CNN) -- The United Arab Emirates will try 94 people on charges of seeking to seize power, the UAE's state news agency WAM reported Sunday.

Most of them were detained in September and are only now being charged, CNN learned.

"They launched, established and ran an organisation seeking to oppose the basic principles of the UAE system of governance and to seize power," Attorney General Salem Saeed Kubaish said in a statement published by WAM. Those arrested were sent to to the Federal Supreme Court.

The group is apparently part of an organization that Kubaish said was established to teach the "virtues of Islam." It intended to take over the government and "oppose the basic principles of the system," he said.

The suspects are accused of using social media to attempt to turn public opinion against the government and its leadership.

Some of the suspects are allegedly part of a group called al-Islah. Islah means reform.

Abdullah Al-Hadidi, son of 53-year old detained al-Islah member Abdulrahman Al Hadidi, spoke with CNN.

"We are not political opposition," Al-Hadidi said. "We know he is not guilty of these charges. I am also a member of al-Islah, and we are proud of Islah. They want us to admit (to crimes) to turn public opinion against us."

He said that contrary to news reports in the region, al-Islah is not a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in the UAE. The Brotherhood is one of the largest political groups in the region. It came to power in Egypt after a revolution that unseated President Hosni Mubarak and brought sweeping changes to that country.

The UAE was not rocked by Arab Spring protests like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other nations in the region.

"It is the responsibility of those making this accusation to offer proof," Al-Hadidi said. "We do not deny we have been influenced by some of the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, much as we've been influenced by some of the ideas of capitalism or any other ideology that we are surrounded by.

"But we are not a branch," he continued. "We have taken on the best of each ideology and left out what may not be beneficial to our county."

He said the group has secularists. He also stressed that it's not an international group or movement.

The government accuses the group of meeting in secret "in their houses and farms" to organize their plot to "seize power and the state's system's governance," according to a statement on the official news agency WAM.

The detainees are also accused of receiving financial support and expertise from the Muslim Brotherhood "to serve their undeclared goal of seizing power."

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