UAE company drops slander charges against U.S. worker

Ryan Pate could have faced prison time if he had been convicted of cyberslander in the UAE.

Story highlights

  • Florida man arrested in UAE for "cyberslander" after Facebook comments
  • Ryan Pate, 30, was in Florida when he made the remarks
  • Pate said he regrets calling his employers "backstabbers"

(CNN)An Emirati company has called a legal truce with an American employee who apologized for slamming it on Facebook.

Abu Dhabi-based Global Aerospace Logistics on Tuesday told Ryan Pate's lawyer that it was dropping charges accusing him of cyberslander, Pate told CNN -- ending the danger that he could serve prison time in the Persian Gulf nation.
    He had just finished a pretrial appearance before a UAE judge Tuesday when his lawyer called him with the news.
    "I was almost home (from the meeting with the judge) when my lawyer called me back to the courthouse. When I got there, he had a big smile on his face," Pate said.
    Pate, 30, of Florida, was arrested in the UAE in February after he criticized the aerospace company on Facebook while he was on vacation in the United States.
    Pate, a helicopter mechanic for GAL, said his criticism came after he learned during his vacation that the company was suspending his pay because of a medical condition.
    "I did slam them verbally (on Facebook)," Pate told CNN earlier this month. "I called them backstabbers."
    The American was arrested upon his return to the UAE. A prosecutor told him that he faced a fine, possible prison time and deportation if convicted.
    He apologized publicly after his arrest, saying he'd said "some pretty derogatory things that I do regret saying."
    "What I said was very wrong. I apologize for it," he told CNN earlier this month.
    Pate's congressman, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Florida, said Tuesday he thanks those "who worked with us to defend Ryan Pate's constitutional rights, including our U.S. ambassador to the UAE."
    "I have always believed because Ryan's actions occurred on American soil, he was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," Jolly said in a news release.
    Pate's future with GAL wasn't immediately clear. GAL didn't immediately return CNN's call seeking comment Tuesday.
    Jolly said that he looks "forward to Ryan being reunited with his family and friends back home in Florida."
    In a statement released through Jolly's office, Pate and his fiancée, Jillian Cardoza, thanked his attorney and the congressman, as well as GAL for "working with Ryan and his attorney to clear him of all charges."
    "We also want to thank the government and people of the United Arab Emirates for their understanding and hearing Ryan's plea for forgiveness," Pate and Cardoza said.