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Woman detained in Dubai over Facebook post back in UK after ‘horrendous’ ordeal

Laleh Shahravesh was reunited with her 14-year-old daughter Paris in an emotional scene at Heathrow.

Laleh Shahraves, right, with her 14-year-old daughter Paris (Detained in Dubai/PA)
Laleh Shahraves, right, with her 14-year-old daughter Paris (Detained in Dubai/PA)

A mother held in Dubai over Facebook posts calling her ex-husband’s wife a “horse” has returned to Britain after being freed from “the most horrendous” ordeal.

Laleh Shahravesh, from Richmond, south-west London, touched back down in Heathrow on Friday morning, according to the Detained in Dubai campaign group that supported her.

She was swiftly reunited with her 14-year-old daughter Paris in an emotional scene at the airport.

While tearfully hugging her daughter, 55-year-old Ms Shahravesh told reporters: “I’m really, really happy to be reunited.”

Her voice cracking with emotion, she thanked Detained in Dubai chief executive Radha Stirling “who worked tirelessly to get me home to my daughter”.

Ms Shahravesh was detained under controversial cyber-crime laws as she visited the United Arab Emirates for the funeral of ex-husband Pedro Correia Dos Santos in March with Paris.

Authorities had received a complaint over posts made three years ago and Ms Shahravesh was warned she faced prosecution and up to two years in prison.

But during a court appearance on Thursday, a judge ordered that her passport was to be returned if she paid a fine of 3,000 UAE Dirham (£624).

Speaking to Sky News, who were present for the call with Paris, she said: “It’s been the most horrendous period of my life.

“I’ve never been separated from Paris in this way and every day part of me was dying from being away from her, during a time when I knew she needed me the most. So yes, it’s been very traumatic.”

The pair had travelled to the United Arab Emirates on March 10 for the funeral of her ex-husband, who was also Paris’s father.

After discovering he had remarried in 2016, Ms Shahravesh called his new wife, Samah Al Hammadi, from Tunisia, a “horse” on Facebook.

Ms Stirling renewed her calls for the Foreign Office to “provide more accurate information to Britons about the many risks they face in the UAE”.

“It is simply not enough to warn people to obey the laws and customs, when very often the legal system itself poses a threat even to law-abiding tourists who may be subjected to false arrests, fabricated cases, forced confessions, torture and lack of representation,” she said.

Ms Stirling also warned that cyber-crime laws there task the legal system with catering to “the tyranny of individual egos” when people are offended by online posts.

A Foreign Office spokesman said its advice included warnings that posting material online that could be seen as being “critical of the UAE government, companies or individuals” or that is “culturally insensitive” could be considered a crime by the country’s authorities.

PA

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