A British national, Laleh Shahravesh, 55, with her 14 year old daughter, has been arrested while arriving at the UAE airport for a post that she made 3 years ago while outside the country.
She wrote the post during a moment of anger when her husband suddenly divorced her and married a new woman while he was in the UAE. What seems to be a light insult, “you are stupid – you married a horse”, has 3 years later escalated into a possible 2 years jail and over $50,000 USD fine.
Laleh and her daughter were on the way to UAE to attend her ex-husband’s funeral, who passed away from a heart attack at the age of 51, only to find out that 3 years ago his new wife had filed a complaint with the UAE authorities about the post.
Laleh’s sister reports: “Laleh was treated badly by the police. The officer who took her statement kept talking with other officers while Laleh answered his questions. He laughed and joked with colleagues instead of listening. Finally he produced a half page statement in Arabic. When we had it translated, it bore no relation to what Laleh had said. For example it translated ‘horse’ as ‘bitch’. That word was actually written in English!”
Radha Stirling, Laleh’s representative, CEO of Detained in Dubai, has issued the following statement:
“I have warned the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office that their advice to tourists is insufficient. When the UAE introduced Cybercrime laws, it rendered almost every visitor to the country a criminal. Visitors to Dubai are rightfully unaware that they could be jailed for a facebook or twitter post made from outside the jurisdiction of the UAE, and made years ago. The UAE’s cybercrime laws apply extraterritorially and retroactively. The Cybercrime laws prohibit sharing charities online such as Amnesty international, they prohibit fundraising, sharing photos taken in public, for example that includes a vehicle or other people. The laws further forbid anything “defamatory” against the UAE and this can even include the reporting of a news article and further prohibit the use of a VPN.”