British mother free to return to UK from Dubai after Facebook insult


A British single mother held in Dubai for insulting her ex-husband’s new wife on social media is to be allowed to return to the UK.

Laleh Sharavesh was fined AED3,000 (€723) fine after a court hearing, the campaign group Detained in Dubai reported.

Her lawyer said the 55-year-old would be home early next week, according to the group’s CEO Radha Stirling.

In 2016 Sharavesh described Samah Al Hammadi as a “horse” on Facebook after being shocked to hear that the Tunisian woman had married her ex-husband Pedro. She had only just received divorce papers after 18 years of marriage.

The couple had lived together in Dubai for several months before Sharavesh returned to London with their daughter.

Sharavesh was arrested at Dubai airport on March 10 after flying to the United Arab Emirates with her 14-year-old daughter Paris to attend the funeral of her former husband, who had died of a heart attack. She was accused under laws that could have brought two years in jail and a fine of tens of thousands of euros.

Earlier this week, her daughter pleaded to the emirate’s ruler for her mother to be freed.

“Over the moon” with relief at her release, she told Detained in Dubai: “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe I’ll be seeing Paris in a few days and that this nightmare has come to an end.”

Welcoming the decision to release her, Radha Stirling described the fine as “symbolic”, adding that the UAE’s cybercrime laws were a “loaded gun pointed at the head of anyone using the internet”.

Under Dubai’s cybercrime laws, people who visit can be heavily fined and jailed for social media posts made before they visit. 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.

Detained in Dubai says the offending comments were made in Farsi. Sharavesh is said to have written “you left me for this horse” and “you married a horse you idiot”. She acknowledges she “reacted badly” and “lashed out”, but says she was angry and hurt after learning of her ex-husband’s new marriage when she saw pictures of the wedding on Facebook.

Police freed Sharavesh on bail with her daughter. But while Paris was flown back to London and has since been staying with relatives, her mother was not allowed to leave Dubai before Thursday’s hearing.

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