A British mum has been arrested in Dubai and faces prison and a fine of thousands of pounds over a Facebook post she uploaded about her ex-husband two years ago.
Laleh Sharavesh, 55, arrived in the United Arab Emirates city on March 14 for her former husband’s funeral. But she was arrested along with her daughter Paris, 14, and thrown into a cell.
She was detained under Dubai’s strict cyber crime laws, after her ex-husband Pedro’s second wife reported Laleh’s angry 2016 social media post.
Laleh says the Facebook post was shared in anger soon after her 18-year marriage had ended. Her husband got married to Samah al Hammadi, 44, of Tunisia and Laleh took to social media to call 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”.
Laleh posted the comments in the UK, not knowing al Hammadi had complained to Dubai authorities where social media posts can be a criminal offence.
Pedro, 51, died of a heart attack earlier this year and Laleh took her daughter Paris to Dubai for the funeral. But they were arrested at the airport shortly after arrival.
Laleh, Pedro and Paris in better times
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”.
Laleh’s daughter Paris was later 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.
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’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.
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.