British "facebook-horse" post prisoner in Dubai free to return home
Laleh Shahravesh, the British mum detained in Dubai over a years old Facebook post, finally looks set to be free.
After an emotional but anticlimactic court hearing this morning, in which the judge adjourned Laleh’s case until a later date, Detained in Dubai received the welcome news that the judge has ordered Laleh to pay a fine of AED 3,000, and that her passport should be returned. She is then free to return to the UK
At the time of writing, Laleh’s attorney has paid the fine, and procedures are underway to recover her passport. She should be home by early next week.
Laleh’s family is ecstatic. Daughter Paris is relieved, and all involved express their gratitude for the outpouring of public support.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai has issued the following statement:
“When cases like this are resolved either through the charges being dropped or through a governmental pardon, or the levelling of a light sentence after a concerted campaign in the international media, while the situation for the individual victim is over, the system that caused that victimisation remains in place, and abuse is inevitably going to occur again.
"In Laleh’s case, the court issued what amounts to a symbolic fine, but UAE Cybercrime laws are still a loaded gun pointed at the head of anyone using the Internet. Anyone exercising their freedom of speech, who lives in, visits, or indeed, who may ever step foot in the UAE is at risk. Laws are supposed to protect people, protect their rights and freedoms; but the UAE’s Cybercrime laws do the opposite. Everyone travelling to or through the UAE is endangered by them; and not everyone who falls victim to these laws is guaranteed media coverage. In the absence of international support, they will be subjected to the full force of the law.
"We maintain that the case against Laleh should have been dismissed at the outset, and while we are pleased that her nightmare is over, her conviction on this absurd case sets a dangerous precedent.
"We are pleasedthat Laleh will be allowed to return home to be reunited with her daughter Paris; but serious concerns remain regarding the many risks for foreigners in the UAE, as well as the apparent docility of the UK consular staff in the Emirates and the refusal of the FCO to update its travel warnings for British citizens to provide them with a more accurate evaluation of the dangers they face in the UAE.”