Two years in a Dubai jail and a heavy fine are getting closer for a British woman who called her former husband’s new wife a “horse” on Facebook.
Laleh Sharavesh, 55, was arrested at Dubai airport last month with her 14-year-old daughter after they arrived in the Gulf kingdom to attend the funeral of Sharavesh’s former husband, according to Detained in Dubai lobby group.
Immediately on arrival she was arrested and charged with breaching Dubai’s draconian cyber-crime laws over abusive remarks she allegedly posted from the UK after discovering that the deceased had remarried.
Shahravesh, from Richmond in south-west London, was married to her Portuguese husband Pedro for 18 years.
The couple lived together in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for eight months – where Pedro worked for a Hong Kong-based bank – before Ms Shahravesh returned alone to the UK with the couple’s daughter. Soon after she was served with divorce papers and learned her husband was remarrying.
In 2016, Sharavesh, who is British-Iranian, posted two comments in Farsi on Facebook as a result. The first, addressing her former husband, said: “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse.” The second message said: “You married a horse…”
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 ahead of her trial.
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.”
Under the UAE’s punitive cyber-crime laws, a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media. This has been applied to the accused even though she wrote the social media posts while in the UK.
Shahravesh will next appear in court in Dubai on Thursday.