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UAE: British woman detained for Facebook post should have all charges dropped

Responding to the case of Laleh Shahravesh, a British woman who has reportedly been detained in Dubai on defamation charges in relation to a Facebook post in her name which called her ex-husband’s new partner a “horse face”, Allan Hogarth, Head of Advocacy and Programmes at Amnesty International UK, said:

“All charges in this absurd case against Laleh Shahravesh should be dropped.

“Ms Shahravesh is reportedly being tried under the UAE’s notorious cybercrimes law - one of several laws which unjustifiably smother free speech in the country.

“The cybercrimes law has been used to silence numerous people in the UAE, including Ahmed Mansoor, the respected Emirati human rights defender jailed for ten years last year for remarks he made online. 

“The Emirati authorities have turned the cybercrimes law into a leading instrument of repression, notably using it against multiple prisoners of conscience during the country’s post-2011 crackdown.”

The legal provision being used against Laleh Shahravesh is thought to be Article 20 of the UAE’s Decree of Federal Law No 5 (2012), which authorises imprisonment and/or a minimum fine of 250,000 dirhams (approximately £50,000) for “anyone who insults another person” online or makes them an object of “ridicule”.

Arrested on her way to ex-husband’s funeral

According to media reports, Laleh Shahravesh was arrested at a Dubai airport after flying there to attend her ex-husband's funeral. The case against her reportedly relates to two Facebook comments she is said to have posted in 2016, when she was in the UK. 

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