ABU DHABI: Seven activists jailed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will challenge a presidential decree to strip them of their citizenship after a court refused to order authorities to return their passports, their lawyer said on Thursday.
The UAE, a major oil exporter, has been cracking down on dissidents demanding reforms at home since Arab Spring uprisings began in the region last year.
The Gulf Arab state, a US ally, revoked the men's citizenship late last year, saying they posed a threat to national security. Some of the men had demanded greater powers for the Federal National Council, an elected body that advises the government.
They were arrested for refusing to sign documents that asked them to "amend their status" by applying for residency visas in the UAE or seeking new nationalities, their families said.
"I will file a new case to ask for the presidential decree to be revoked," their lawyer, Mohammed al Roken, told reporters in Abu Dhabi.
Roken was speaking after a federal court in Abu Dhabi threw out a petition the men had filed against the Interior Ministry to return citizenship documents that had been confiscated.
The judge ruled that was an executive action and not subject to administrative court jurisdiction.
Roken said he would appeal the ruling. He said he had not been allowed by authorities to visit his clients since April 9.
The UAE has weathered the popular uprisings that began last year and have toppled four Arab leaders, thanks in part to its cradle-to-grave welfare system, but it has shown little tolerance towards dissent at home.
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