Laleh’s accuser hinted to reporters that she may drop the case but no official withdrawal has taken place, and the case is slated for a court hearing this Thursday.
Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling has issued the following statement:
“We have seen reports stating that complainant, Ms Hammadi, is considering withdrawing her case against Laleh out of respect for her late husband’s love for his daughter Paris who has been separated from her mother for nearly a month because of the case, and who suffered the trauma of detention the moment she and her Mum arrived in Dubai.
“Ms Hammadi has apparently expressed her willingness to drop the charges to reporters, but no formal steps have been taken to withdraw the complaint. Laleh’s lawyer has an appointment with the presiding judge today and the case is scheduled to proceed with a hearing on Thursday.
“We understand that Dubai police made several attempts to persuade Ms Hammadi to drop her complaint at the time of the arrest, but she stubbornly refused; going so far as to push her complaint in person at the police station with further testimony and evidence. The Cybercrime laws are so vague that even the police are powerless to interpret them responsibly and they had no choice but to proceed with the Tunisian’s case against Laleh even though they themselves apparently deemed the complaint frivolous. The Public Prosecutor should have rejected the case if for no other reason than to clarify that the Cybercrime laws should deal with matters of genuine public endangerment; hate speech, incitement to violence, and so on; and are not to be applied in petty matters of personal disputes and injured egos. But again, the laws are so broad and abstract that the legal system cannot even define reasonable parameters for their application
“We reiterate that this is a matter not only of freedom of speech, but of jurisdictional limits. I understand that Ms. Hammadi may have been perturbed by Laleh’s comments, but those comments do not constitute a crime in the United Kingdom, where they were written; nor are they a crime in America, where the platform that hosted the comments is based. The fact is, Laleh had a right to her feelings, and a right to express them, and neither Ms. Hammadi nor the UAE government has the right to punish her for anything she said outside the UAE. If Ms. Hammadi was offended by the comments, she had the option, like anyone else on that platform, to simply delete them. What is criminal is throwing a single mother in prison for expressing her feelings, and separating her from her daughter, in vengeance for a bruised ego.
“Whether Ms Hammadi withdraws the complaint or not, the Public Prosecutor’s office should drop the case, or if not, the judge should dismiss it as unworthy of the court’s time. If the UAE does not establish that its Cybercrime laws are not to be used to satisfy petty personal grudges, these laws will be endlessly misused to punish people for expressing themselves. Laws are enacted to protect the public; to protect their rights and freedoms; the Cybercrime laws do the opposite.”
Radha Stirling, is founder and CEO of UK / USA based legal and human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Expert Witness and respected analyst of Middle East Policy.
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