- A British woman was arrested in Dubai because she called her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” on Facebook three years ago, campaigners said.
- She made the comments in 2016 while she was living in the UK.
- Laleh Shahravesh may now face up to two years in jail and a $US65,000 fine.
- The UAE’s cyber crime laws make it punishable to insult someone online.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
A British woman was arrested in Dubai for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” on Facebook three years ago, according to campaigners.
Laleh Shahravesh, 55, may now face up to two years in jail and a $US65,000 fine because of the United Arab Emirates’ cyber crime laws, said the human rights organisation Detained in Dubai. She published the comments in 2016 while living in the UK.
The single mother found out her ex-husband had remarried from Facebook photos, and made two disparaging comments in Farsi.
“I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse,” one of them read.
Shahravesh and her teenage daughter were detained in March when they travelled to Dubai to attend the ex-husband’s funeral. The 14-year-old was allowed to return to London where she is staying with relatives.
Shahravesh was married to her former partner for 18 years. They briefly lived in Dubai together, but she took their daughter to the UK when the relationship ended.
Under the UAE’s cyber crime law it is illegal to insult someone on social media. Campaigners said the ex-husband’s widow reported Shahravesh to authorities.
Shahravesh has been bailed, but her passport has been confiscated and she is staying in a hotel while awaiting trial, BBC News reported.
Shahravesh told campaigners she went through her savings to pay for the hotel, was fired from her job, and might lose her UK apartment.
“I am terrified. I can’t sleep or eat. I have gone down two dress sizes because of the stress. And my daughter cries herself to sleep every night,” she told Detained in Dubai.
A Foreign Office spokesman told The Guardian that its staff are in contact with UAE authorities over the detention of a British woman.
Radha Stirling, the CEO of Detained in Dubai, who is representing Shahravesh, criticised the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) lack of support.
“Laleh and her family are unaware of any diplomatic intervention and feel wholly abandoned by their government,” she said.
She also called on the FCO to increase their warnings for tourists travelling to Dubai. The cyber crime laws can be applied retroactively and to users living abroad, which means they “have potentially rendered almost every visitor a criminal,” she said.
Shahravesh’s daughter will write a letter to Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed to ask for her mother’s release, Stirling said.
Shahravesh is due in court Thursday.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.