Far out Friday: Facebook rant lands US employee in Middle Eastern jail
In the West, complaining about your employer online can land you in hot water – but one outspoken worker didn’t realize the consequences are far harsher in Abu Dhabi.
Ryan Pate, a helicopter mechanic from Belleair Bluffs, Florida, chose Facebook to rant about the United Arab Emirates employer he was working for at the time.
Pate was at home in Florida when he posted the seething message – about sick leave – but when he returned to Abu Dhabi he was told to report to the police station immediately.
He was then promptly arrested for breaking a UAS law – slandering his employer.
The disgruntled mechanic said he spent about 10 days in jail but is now free on bail awaiting a March 17 trial. Pate could face up to five years in prison and a steep fine if convicted.
“I just couldn’t register it in my head because as an American growing up in the United States, the First Amendment right is just ingrained in my brain,” he said. “I never even entertained the fact that I would wind up in prison out here for something I put on Facebook in the United States.”
Pate says he can’t remember exactly what was in the controversial post but says he knows he called his bosses “backstabbers” and warned other contractors not to work for them.