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  1. ITV Report

Ex-husband's wife 'prepared to drop case' against British mother facing jail in Dubai for calling her a 'horse'

Laleh Shahravesh with her daughter, Paris. Credit: Detained in Dubai

The case against a British woman who is facing up to two years in jail and a £50,000 fine in Dubai for calling her deceased ex-husband's wife "a horse" in a 2016 Facebook post could be dropped.

Samah Al Hammadi, the wife of Laleh Shahravesh's former husband has said that while she was subjected to "constant harassment and verbal abuse" from the Londoner, she is "willing" to drop the case "to honour my husband’s love for his daughter".

Ms Shahravesh was arrested along with her 14-year-old daughter, Paris, for breaking Dubai’s cybercrime laws - where a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media - when they returned to the country on March 10 for her former husband's funeral.

The UAE's laws mean that an old social media post from before a person visits Dubai can see them heavily fined and jailed for years if they ever visit the desert state.

After her arrest, police took Ms Shahravesh's passport and she is unable to leave the country.

Paris flew home alone on her scheduled flight five days later and has been staying with relatives.

was married to her ex-husband for 18 years until he suddenly served her with divorce papers. Credit: Detained in Dubai

Ms Shahravesh had been married to her ex-husband, Pedro, for 18 years and they lived together in Dubai, where he worked for HSBC, for eight months before she returned to Britain with their daughter.

A few months later, in 2016, she unexpectedly received divorce papers and saw from photos on Facebook that Pedro, who is Portuguese, had remarried.

Ms Shahravesh said she "reacted badly" to the news and this prompted her to "lash out" and write "two unpleasant comments about his new wife on his Facebook page".

The 55-year-old claimed she wrote the offending comments in Farsi in the UK which said: "I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse," and "you married a horse you idiot.

The posts were reported by Pedro’s new wife, Samah Al Hammadi, 42, from Tunisia, the group said.

But in a statement released on Monday, Ms Al Hammadi said that while she had been subjected to "constant harassment and verbal abuse" fromMs Shahravesh, she is "willing" to drop the case "to honour my husband’s love for his daughter".

“I would like to clarify that both my late husband and I had been facing constant harassment and verbal abuse from Ms Laleh Shahravesh over the past few years," Ms Al Hammadi's statement said.

"She has used vicious abuse and offensive language to harass both of us, causing us extreme distress and mental torment...

"In these circumstances, my husband and I were forced to file a case with the Dubai police to seek protection against her extremely vile actions.

"Even after the death of my husband, Ms Sharavesh continued to tarnish my husband’s reputation on social media with offensive messages and posts...

"I am pursuing this case because I believe it is my duty to honour my late husband and protect him from further defamation.

"One of the last messages he tearfully gave me before his death was that he deeply loved his daughter.

"I am willing to withdraw this case to honour my husband’s love for his daughter."

Ms Shahravesh had returned to Dubai with her daughter for her ex-husband's funeral. Credit: PA

In a statement released through Detained in Dubai, Ms Shahravesh said she had "reacted badly" to news of Pedro remarrying.

"I lashed out and wrote two unpleasant comments about his new wife on his Facebook page.

"I know shouldn’t have.

"I should have behaved better, but I felt angry, betrayed and hurt.

"After 18 years of marriage, such a small amount of time apart, he was getting married so quickly.

"He didn’t even have enough respect for me to tell me in advance."

Now, alone and facing a lengthy jail sentence, Ms Shahravesh, said she is "terrified" and "can’t sleep or eat.

"I have gone down two dress sizes because of the stress.

"And my daughter cries herself to sleep every night.

"We are so close, especially since her father left us and we only have each other.

"It breaks my heart to be kept apart from her."

Ms Shahravesh said she has also lost her job at a homeless shelter, could lose the flat she shares with her daughter and has borrowed £5,000 from her family.

“My life is in ruins, and that is even before the huge fines and jail I am facing here,” she said.

Laleh Shahravesh with her daughter, Paris, who has been allowed to return to the UK. Credit: Detained in Dubai

Detained In Dubai said the 55-year-old's arrest, under strict cybercrime laws which also include a ban on sharing charity pages online, was “simply unreasonable”.

Radha Stirling, CEO of the organisation, said the UAE Cybercrime laws put many British visitors to the country in a precarious position.

“The UAE is the most likely place for British nationals to be arrested abroad and the cybercrime laws have potentially rendered almost every visitor a criminal.

"The laws are enforced arbitrarily, which leads to even greater confusion over what is or isn’t a crime.

“I have spoken with Laleh, her mother, sisters and daughter Paris.

"Their experience is heartbreaking.

"Not only has Paris lost her father, but in going to visit him to say her final goodbye, she wound up in a frightening Middle Eastern police station, and is now without her mother."

  • Laleh Shahravesh's lawyer Radha Stirling told ITV News the FCO is not warning tourists about the risks of visiting the UAE.

Ms Stirling said Paris is writing to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to appeal for her mother's release.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was in "contact with the UAE authorities" regarding Ms Shahravesh.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "concerned" about Ms Shahvaresh's case, but that his staff were "offering consular assistance".

He continued that British diplomats in the UAE "have enormous experience in dealing with consular cases, as we saw with the Matthew Hedges case, so she is getting the best possible service from the FCO".

Mr Hedges was pardoned by the UAE in 2018 after he had been given a life sentence for spying for MI6, which was denied by Britain.

Tourists may get into trouble for breaking certain laws in the UAE. Credit: AP

Things that will get you into trouble in UAE

  • Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE and punishable by one in prison, as is cross-dressing. Same-sex marriages are not recognised in the country.
  • Alcohol is available is at licensed venues, however being drunk in public is prohibited. If you want to buy alcohol at a shop or drink at home, then you must purchase a license from the Ministry of the Interior in Dubai.
  • Drugs are not tolerated in the UAE and if you are found guilty of trafficking drugs, there is a death penalty attached. Typically there is a four year prison sentence for drug possession.
  • Drinking or eating in public during the month of Ramadan is illegal. The punishment is a fine or up to a month in prison.
  • Road rage is an issue in the UAE and obscenities or rude gestures will be considered moral crimes and can be punished by six months imprisonment.
  • Writing up a cheque that bounces is a criminal offence and can end up in a prison sentence.
  • According to UAE law, you are not allowed to raise money for charity online. You should only go through registered charities based in the UAE and leave the fundraising aspect up to them.