A Florida man arrested in the United Arab Emirates for comments he posted on Facebook said he’s sorry for his remarks.
“I said some pretty derogatory things that I do regret saying,” Ryan Pate said.
Pate, who is a helicopter mechanic for Global Aerospace Logistics, an aerospace company based in Abu Dhabi, was on vacation in Florida when he was notified by the company that there would be “steps taken against [him] due to a medical condition.”
The 30-year-old said he was on Facebook when he got the news that his pay would be suspended, so he immediately expressed his anger there.
“I did slam them verbally,” he said. “I called them backstabbers.”
Pate’s fiancée, Jillian Cardoza, said it was the “perceived lack of sympathy from his company” that “embodied his comments that he made on Facebook.”
When Pate returned to the U.A.E. in February, he was was arrested for “cyber slander against the UAE and his employers,” U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Florida, said in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is in contact with [Pate] and providing all possible consular assistance,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said. Harf confirmed Pate was arrested on February 16 and was released on bail on February 24.
Pate said he did not insult the U.A.E., the culture or Islam, but Cardoza said she understands her fiance’s comments were still “offensive to not only the company he made them at, but in a larger sense the Arab population.”
“What I said was very wrong,” Pate said, “I apologize for it.”
Pate said the prosecutor has told him that he faces a fine, possible prison time and deportation if convicted.
“It really all rests on what the judge wants to do with with situation,” Pate said.
Pate’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 17.