A British mum faces prison and a fine of thousands of pounds in Dubai over a Facebook post she uploaded about her ex-husband two years ago.
Laleh Sharavesh, 55, said she was arrested along with her daughter Paris, 14, and thrown into a cell when she arrived in the United Arab Emirates city on March 14 for her former husband’s funeral.
She was detained under Dubai’s strict cyber crime laws, after her ex-husband Pedro’s second wife had reported Laleh’s angry 2016 social media post. Laleh says it was posted soon after her 18-year marriage had ended.
Her daughter Paris was allowed to go back to their Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey, home after spending 12 hours ‘terrified’ in a cell, but Laleh’s passport was confiscated, meaning she still can’t leave the country, according to a report by Mail Online.
She is due to appear in court later this week and faces up to two years in jail and a fine of £50,000.
Laleh told MailOnline: ‘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 wrote comments in Farsi following her husband’s wedding to Samah al Hammadi, 44, of Tunisia, in which she called the bride a ‘horse’.
Two posts allegedly 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’.
Having ‘lashed out’ and ‘reacted badly’ she posted the comments in the UK, not knowing al Hammadi had complained to Dubai authorities where social media posts can be a criminal offence.
When Laleh and Paris arrived for a five-day trip to say goodbye to Pedro, 51, who had died of a heart attack, they were arrested at the airport.
Immigration authorities had an outstanding arrest warrant following the complaint made in 2017.
Laleh claimed she was offered a statement to sign in Arabic but the translation of the Facebook post she wrote was incorrect and the word ‘horse’ was substituted for ‘bitch’.
The mother has since ‘lost everything’ including her job at a homeless shelter, has amassed £5,000 in debt having to stay in Dubai, and is facing eviction at her British property as she can’t pay rent, she claims.
She said: ‘All of that is less important than being separated from my daughter, and that’s all I want now, just to be back with her.’
Laleh’s sister Laden claimed the family have appealed to the British Embassy for help but were told they could not intervene.
Radha Stirling, CEO of human rights organisation Detained In Dubai is representing Laleh, and said 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 mum’s release.
She added that the ‘draconian’ laws are confusing for British foreigners who would not know they were committing a crime.
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.