A British women who was facing up to two years in an UAE jail for making insulting remarks on Facebook about her ex-husband’s new wife has been released.
Last month Laleh Shahravesh was arrested at Dubai airport for remarks she had made on Facebook in 2016. Upon seeing a photo of the new couple on the social media site, she described the new wife, Samah Al Hammidi, as a “horse” and called her former husband an “idiot”.
Writing in Farsi the 55-year-old who had returned to the Emirates to attend the funeral of her ex-husband of 18 years, Shahravesh said: “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse.”
The UAE’s strict cyber laws came under criticism following Shahravesh’s arrest and her 14-year-old daughter pleaded with UAE authorities to release her mother.
Upon landing at Heathrow airport this morning Shahravesh thanked Radha Stirling, the chief executive of campaigners Detained in Dubai, who she said had “worked tirelessly to get me home to my daughter”.
Stirling had a strong message about the UAE. Speaking to the BBC she said: “The incident was a ‘grave warning’ to social media users over visiting Dubai with the ‘vast majority’ of similar cases going unheard.”
Sterling went on to say that “without the spotlight from the international press and the raising of awareness to the UAE authorities this would have gone on for at least six months.”
A similar warning was directed at the UK Foreign Office by Shahravesh following her detention in Dubai. She called on the UK government to provide more explicit guidance about the risks of travelling to the UAE.
The BBC reported that Shahravesh’s case was settled yesterday with an $816 fine.
Shahravesh’s case is the second high profile incident in less than six month to expose the UAE’s extreme reaction. In November, courts in Abu Dhabi issued British academic, Matthew Hedges, a life sentence for spying.
Hedges was later released after the Foreign Office (FCO) intervened on his behalf. Following his release the academic said that he was forced to confess to spying by UAE officials.