American jailed in UAE Facebook case may have charges dismissed

An American helicopter mechanic whose Facebook post complaining about his employer in the United Arab Emirates got him arrested in the Mideast nation said Tuesday he has been told the company is seeking to dismiss the charges against him.

Ryan Pate, 30, appeared in an Abu Dhabi court Tuesday to present his defense on charges he defamed the Emirati company he worked for, Global Aerospace Logistics.

The Belleair Bluffs, Florida native posted about the company during a visit stateside following a dispute with his employer over sick leave. When he returned to Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich Emirati capital, he was told to report to a police station and was placed under arrest for breaking local laws against defamation.

Pate's Facebook post has since been deleted. He says he can't remember exactly what he wrote, but he knows he called his bosses "backstabbers" and warned others not to work for them.

In an interview after his court hearing, Pate said his lawyer informed him that GAL has submitted paperwork seeking to dismiss the charges. He is cautiously optimistic that will bring an end to his legal ordeal, though he is still waiting for final confirmation from the court.

"I'm so grateful to the company for doing that. That was a huge thing for them to do," he said.

Pate says he spent about 10 days in jail before being released pending a verdict in the case. Authorities are holding his passport, which is customary for defendants in the Emirates, meaning he cannot leave the Gulf nation.

He has said he regrets letting his emotions get the best of him.

Pate's congressman, Rep. David Jolly, has lobbied the U.S. State Department and Emirates officials for help in the case. A consular officer visited Pate in jail and the embassy planned to continue providing assistance, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said earlier this month.

GAL did not immediately return a call seeking comment.