Facebook Suicide prevention system
Ryan Pate faces a five year imprisonment for making remarks about his company Global Aerospace Logistics via Facebook.Reuters

An American expat has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates after complaining about his company on Facebook.

Ryan Pate could be jailed for five years for breaking Abu Dhabi's strict anti-cyber laws after he called his employer Global Aerospace Logistics (Gal) "backstabbers" on the social media site for failing to extend his sick leave for a back injury.

He made the comments while in the United States and had planned to resign on his return to the Persian Gulf. But soon after arriving, he was arrested and officers showed the screenshots of his comments.

He told Fox News: "I just couldn't register it in my head because as an American growing up in the United States, the First Amendment right is just ingrained in my brain. I never even entertained the fact that I would wind up in prison out here for something I put on Facebook in the United States."

In 2012, It became illegal in Abu Dhabi to criticise companies or people on the web.

Republican David Jolly is trying to overturn the charges by lobbying the Justice State Department and Emirates officials to acknowledge the law should not apply in the case of Pate who made the alleged offence in America.

"It is deeply troubling that Mr Pate now faces judicial proceedings over an action that was done legally in his home country," he said.

Pate's trial is due to start on 17 March.