British woman faces jail time in Dubai for ‘insulting’ post about ex-husband’s new wife

A British woman’s disparaging Facebook posts about her ex-husband’s new wife reportedly may land her in a Dubai jail for up to two years.

Laleh Shahravesh, 55, of London was arrested along with her teenage daughter at the airport in Dubai last month after visiting the United Arab Emirates for her ex-husband’s funeral.

According to Detained in Dubai, she was taken into custody for two Facebook posts made while living in the United Kingdom in 2016 that discussed her husband's remarriage. Her daughter, 14, was eventually allowed to leave and is staying with relatives in London.

Shahravesh, however, faces up to two years in prison or a $652,000 fine.

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The United Arab Emirates' cybercrime laws say that a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media. (istock)

The United Arab Emirates' cybercrime laws say that a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media. (istock)

The group said Shahravesh and her ex-husband were married for 18 years and lived in Dubai for an eight-month period while he worked for HSBC there.

At some point, she returned to London with their daughter, 14, allegedly with the understanding that he would join them at a later date, after his work commitments ended.

Months later, however, the couple divorced. Shahravesh apparently discovered her ex-husband was remarrying when she saw posts of the new couple on Facebook.

She posted two comments in Farsi, including one that said: “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse.”

The second comment said: “You married a horse you idiot.”

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Now, the 55-year-old has been accused of breaking the UAE’s cybercrime laws, which states a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media.

Detained in Dubai says Shahravesh’s ex-husband’s widow, who is Tunisian and lives in Dubai, reported the comments to authorities.

Radha Stirling, the chief executive of Detained in Dubai, which is helping Shahravesh, said her client has been bailed out of jail, but authorities have confiscated her passport.

She said Shahravesh is “absolutely distraught” about the entire ordeal and has checked into a hotel in Dubai to await trial.

In comments released by the campaign group, Shahravesh acknowledged she “reacted badly” when she lashed out on Facebook.

“I know I shouldn't have. I should have behaved better, but I felt angry, betrayed and hurt,” Shahravesh told the group. "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."

Shahravesh, who was born in Iran but moved to the U.K. as a child and holds a British passport, said she traveled to Dubai because her daughter wanted to say goodbye to her father, who died March 3.

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A Foreign Office spokesman told reporters its staff is supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in the United Arab Emirates, but the woman was not identified.

“We are in contact with the UAE authorities regarding her case,” the spokesman said.