Marte Deborah Dalelv has been told she is free to leave the United Arab Emirates, despite being sentenced to 16 months in jail for extra-marital sex after she had reported to the police that she had been raped.
She had launched an appeal against the sentence, but then a pardon arrived from the Sheikh of Dubai.
The 24-year-old Norwegian was clearly relieved by the news saying: “Today I will celebrate with my friends and my family. I have a few people that I really need to thanks. Because they’ve been great. They’ve been helping me. So, today I’m just going to celebrate, and yes (…) I’ll get my passport, I will get my passport, and I’m free to go.”
She is expected to leave Dubai on a flight to Oslo within the next few days.
Dalelv said she spoke out as a warning to others about the risks involved in reporting rape cases in the UAE.
Under Islamic law a rape conviction can require a confession or four adult male witnesses.
Human rights groups hope that the media attention will force a review of laws to protect victims of sexual violence.
“I warmly welcome that Marte Dalelv was pardoned by the ruler of Dubai today. The fight for human rights for all continues,” Norway’s foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, said on his Twitter account.
Eide had told reporters Oslo believed the verdict was “completely unacceptable” and said it was contrary to human rights and the basic sense of justice.
News of the sentence had dominated the front pages in Norway and raised questions about the judicial system in the Gulf state, which attracts large numbers of expatriates and tourists with a Western lifestyle but has little-publicised conservative laws covering sex and alcohol.
As well as the charge of having sex outside marriage, Dalelv was found guilty of drinking and making false statements.