Laleh Shahravesh, 55, faced a three-year jail sentence, but now she's expected to be released next week

By Char Adams
April 11, 2019 01:29 PM
Paris (left) and mother Laleh Shahravesh
Detained in Dubai

Activists have rallied around a 55-year-old British mother who was arrested in Dubai over Facebook comments she made in 2016 after learning her ex-husband had remarried, reports say.

Laleh Shahravesh was arrested on March 10 at Dubai International Airport after flying to the city with her daughter, Paris, for the funeral of her ex-husband, Pedro Manuel Coreia Dos Santos, according to human rights organization Detained in Dubai.

Authorities said Shahravesh broke Dubai’s cybercrime laws when she insulted Dos Santos’ wife on Facebook, according to the organization.

“I hope you go under the ground you idiot,” Shahravesh allegedly wrote in Farsi, according to the Washington Post. “Damn you. You left me for this horse.”

The organization rallied behind Shahravesh and criticized the laws. Paris, 14, even pleaded for her mother’s release in a letter to United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Mohammed, which was shared by Detained in Dubai.

“I have not seen my mother in 23 days, and with every passing day, I feel less hopeful of her return,” Paris wrote in the letter published last week. “I ask kindly: please, please return my mother’s passport, and let her come home.”

Shahravesh initially faced three years in jail in Dubai along with a fine of up to 50,000 pounds (over $65,000), the Post reported. However, Detained in Dubai announced on Thursday that the case had been settled and Shahravesh would have to pay AED 3,000 (just over $800), according to the BBC.

Shahravesh is expected to return home next week.

It was Dos Santos’ new wife who reported the Facebook comments to Dubai police, according to the Post. Shahravesh, who was married to Dos Santos for 18 years, was apparently still in violation of the laws despite posting the comments while on British soil.

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Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling praised the news of Shahravesh’s impending release on the organization’s website, but continued to condemn the strict laws that led to the mother’s arrest.

“In Laleh’s case, the court issued what amounts to a symbolic fine, but UAE Cybercrime laws are still a loaded gun pointed at the head of anyone using the Internet,” Stirling wrote in a statement. “Anyone exercising their freedom of speech, who lives in, visits, or indeed, who may ever step foot in the UAE is at risk. Laws are supposed to protect people, protect their rights and freedoms; but the UAE’s Cybercrime laws do the opposite.”

According to the organization, a judge postponed Shahravesh’s case and her passport is expected to be returned after the fine is paid.

“Laleh’s family is ecstatic,” the group said in a statement. “Daughter Paris is relieved, and all involved express their gratitude for the outpouring of public support.”