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Human Rights Watch says Dubai event cancelled on short notice, sees threat to expression

A leading international watchdog says its press conference in Dubai on human rights issues in the United Arab Emirates has been abruptly cancelled.

Human Rights Watch says it was told by the Novotel hotel that Thursday's conference was cancelled because a government permit was needed.

The conference was supposed to discuss the latest report by the New York-based group on the state of human rights in the Emirates.

HRW says no permit was requested since it booked event space a month ago and alleges the cancellation underscores threats to freedom of expression in the Gulf nation.

The hotel and government authorities made no immediate comment.

But the speaker of the UAE's Federal National Council, Mohammed Ahmed al-Murr, has denounced the HRW report in comments to state news agency WAM.