Shez Cassim to be released from United Arab Emirates prison

Shez Cassim to be released from United Arab Emirates prison

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The calls to #FreeShez have been answered.

Shezanne Cassim, a Woodbury, Minn. native and University of Minnesota graduate, will be released from prison in the United Arab Emirates 8 months after he was jailed for a parody video posted on YouTube.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who worked with the U.S. State Department and UAE officials on the matter, called his release the "best start to 2014 I can imagine" and said it was "simply the right thing to do."

"This decision is not just wonderful news for Shezanne, his family and his friends, it is simply the right thing to do," Klobuchar said in a statement. "Jailing this young man for months for posting a harmless video made absolutely no sense, especially in a country that prides itself on being a tolerant and just nation. Shezanne's family never gave up on this fight, and having their son home safe is the best start to 2014 I can imagine."

In December, Cassim was sentenced to one year in prison, a $2,700 fine and deportation.

Klobuchar was first contacted by the Cassim family in April and worked with the State Department and UAE ambassador to this point. She also pushed to have Shez Cassim's time served included in his sentence, which was a major factor in the decision to release him.

"I'm thrilled that Shezanne is finally coming home to his family in Minnesota," Sen. Al Franken said in a statement. "I'm relieved that Shezanne's ordeal is over, and was pleased to help press for his release over the past several months."

The video, "Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs," pokes fun of young men in Dubai's upscale suburb of Satwa, who aren't nearly as tough as they'd like to believe. It begins with a disclaimer clearly stating no offense was intended.

Ironically, when Cassim was first questioned about the video, he offered to take it down. At the time, it only had 200 views, but prosecutors declined the offer.

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