British woman arrested in Dubai and faces 2 years in prison over Facebook post

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A British woman is facing prison sentence in Dubai for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” on her Facebook post.

Londoner Laleh Shahravesh,55, was arrested together with her 14-year-old daughter, Paris, at one of Dubai’s airports after flying there March 14 to attend funeral of her late husband.

Laleh Sharavesh was arrested together with her 14-year-old daughter Paris shortly after she arrived in the Arab kingdom for her ex’s funeral , March 14, 2019.

Laleh Sharavesh is facing prosecution over two Facebook comments she posted on pictures of her husband remarrying in 2016. If convicted, she will spend at least two years in prison.

The mother of one was detained under Dubai’s strict cyber crime laws, after her ex-husband Pedro’s second wife reported Laleh’s angry 2016 Facebook post.

Laleh said she made the post in anger soon after her 18-year marriage ended. Her husband got married to Tunisian woman, Samah al Hammadi, 44, and Laleh took to Facebook to call the bride a “horse”.

Two of her posts read: “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse” and “You married a horse you idiot”.

Laleh posted the comments while in the UK. Unknown to her, Samah al Hammadi had complained to Dubai authorities where social media posts can be a criminal offence.

Laleh’s late ex-husband, Pedro, 51, died of a heart attack earlier this year and Laleh took her daughter Paris to Dubai for the funeral. It was there that they authorities in Dubai arrested her shortly after she landed at the airport.

Laleh said she was given a statement written in Arabic to sign after she was arrested but the translation of her Facebook post was incorrect and the word “horse” was substituted for “bitch”.

Laleh and daughter, Paris

After 12 hours in detention, Laleh’s daughter Paris was allowed to go back to their Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey, home, but Laleh’s passport was confiscated, meaning she will remain in Dubai to face the law.

Laleh is due to appear in court later this week and faces up to two years in prison and a fine of £50,000.

“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. We are so close, especially since her father left us and we only have each other. It breaks my heart to be kept apart from her”, Laleh told MailOnline

According to Laleh’s sister, Laden, they have appealed to the British Embassy in Dubai for help but were told they could not intervene.

Radha Stirling, CEO of human rights organization Detained In Dubai is currently representing Laleh. According to her, Laleh’s daughter, Paris, is going to write a letter to Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE, in a bid to appeal for her mother’s release.

Laleh, Pedro and Paris during good old days

“No-one would really be aware” of the severity of cyber-crime laws in the UAE, and the FCO had failed to adequately warn tourists about them, Ms Stirling said.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said in a statement obtained by BBC News: “Our staff are supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in the UAE.

“We are in contact with the UAE authorities regarding her case.”

The UAE’s cybercrime laws prohibit sharing charities online such as Amnesty international, fundraising, sharing photos taken in public, and anything defamatory against the state.

Four people killed in riot over Facebook post

Ms Shahravesh was married to her ex-husband for 18 years. She lived in the United Arab Emirates only for eight months at that time, according to the campaign group Detained in Dubai.

When she returned to the UK with her daughter, her late ex-husband stayed back in the United Arab Emirates until the couple divorced.


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