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Woman detained in Dubai over Facebook post tells of ‘horrendous’ ordeal

Laleh Shahravesh was arrested last month when she travelled to the United Arab Emirates for her ex-husband’s funeral.

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

A British woman held in Dubai over Facebook posts calling her ex-husband’s wife a “horse” has described her ordeal as “the most horrendous period of my life”.

Laleh Shahravesh said the experience had been “very traumatic” during an emotional phone call with her 14-year-old daughter Paris.

The 55-year-old, from Richmond, south-west London, was detained under Dubai’s strict cyber-crime laws when she visited the country with her daughter in March for the funeral of ex-husband Pedro Correia Dos Santos.

Every day part of me was dying from being away from her. Laleh Shahravesh

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’ father.

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

The Detained in Dubai campaign group welcomed the conclusion of Ms Shahravesh’s case, but cautioned that “serious concerns remain regarding the many risks for foreigners in the UAE”.

Radha Stirling, the campaign group’s chief executive, said: “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 pleased that 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 (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) to update its travel warnings for British citizens to provide them with a more accurate evaluation of the dangers they face in the UAE.”

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