This article was originally published on April 9. Laleh Sharavesh has since been given permission to leave Dubai. For an updated version of this story click here.
The daughter of a British woman who was arrested in Dubai over comments she made on social media in 2016 insulting her husband’s new wife has pleaded to the emirate’s ruler for her release.
The girl’s mother Laleh Shahravesh, 55, described Samah Al Hammadi on Facebook as a “horse” after being shocked to hear that the 42-year-old Tunisian woman had married her ex-husband Pedro, shortly after receiving divorce papers following 18 years of marriage.
According to the human rights group Detained in Dubai, Sharavesh was arrested at Dubai airport on March 10 after flying to the United Arab Emirates with her daughter, Paris, to attend Pedro's funeral, who recently died of a heart attack.
Paris Shahravesh, 14, wrote a letter to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, asking him to release her mother.
“I have not seen my mother in 23 days, and with every passing day, I feel less hopeful of her return. I ask kindly: please, please return my mother’s passport, and let her come home,” said the child’s letter.
The girl said they were kept in an immigration waiting room for four hours without being fully made aware of what was going on.
She wrote that they kept being shouted at by police to stop crying and that her mother was forced to sign a document in Arabic, which she did not understand in order to be released from the police station.
"I cannot emphasise enough how scared I felt, especially after losing my father just a week before, as I was having to worry about losing my mother as well," she wrote, adding that "the sick feeling in my stomach only became worse."
Paris said they then spent two days at the British embassy but they were unable to help.
Under Dubai’s cybercrime laws, people who visit the desert state can be heavily fined and jailed for social media posts made before they visit, the campaign group warns. It’s believed that Sharavesh – who had lived in the UAE for eight months – was arrested following a complaint from her ex-husband’s new wife.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told Euronews that "staff are supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in the UAE. We are in contact with the UAE authorities regarding her case.”
Speaking during a trip to Luxembourg, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters that the government was "concerned" by the situation.
"Our diplomats in the UAE have enormous experience in dealing with consular cases as we saw from the Matthew Hedges case and so she is getting the best possible service from the FCO," he said.