Cyber-slander charges against a Belleair Bluffs man have been dropped by the United Arab Emirates. Ryan Pate was arrested on February 16 for charges associated with a Facebook rant he had previously posted against his UAE-based employer and Islamic people.
Pate was angry with his company, Global Aerospace Logistics, over a denied request to extend his leave in the U.S. to obtain medical care for a back injury. In the Facebook post that has since been removed, Pate called the company “backstabbers” and some racial comments.
Pate, a helicopter mechanic, apologized for the remarks, but several charges stemming from the comment stuck. The case garnered national and international attention for its effects on First Amendment issues. Pate’s remarks are protected in the U.S., but the UAE does not have the same freedom of speech protections.
U.S. Rep. David Jolly has been working with the UAE government to get the charges against Pate dropped.
“I want to thank those who have worked with us to defend Ryan Pate’s constitutional rights, including our U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E. I have always believed because Ryan’s actions occurred on American soil, he was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Jolly said. “I now look forward to Ryan being reunited with his family and friends back home in Florida.”
It’s not clear when Pate will be able to return home. Jolly was notified by Pate’s fiancée, Jillian Cardoza, early Tuesday morning that the charges have been dropped, but because of a flurry of paperwork that has to be completed before returning to U.S. soil, she’s not sure when he’ll be home.
“We want to thank Global Aerospace Logistics for working with Ryan and his attorney to clear him of all charges. Ryan’s attorney, Nasser, has been nothing short of outstanding during this and we are grateful for him and his team. We also want to thank the government and people of the United Arab Emirates for their understanding and hearing Ryan’s plea for forgiveness,” the couple wrote in a statement. “Our immense gratitude goes out to Congressman David Jolly and his office for working tirelessly to ensure Ryan was cared for and never letting him feel forgotten. Congressman Jolly has been a rock for not only Ryan, but for his family and friends and we will never forget what he has done for us. Lastly, but certainly not least, we want to thank everyone, including the media, for being there for Ryan. We have found friends in many places and are grateful for every last one of them. Thank you again.”