Press Release: Pilot detained in Dubai over WhatsApp text to ex is FREED
A 28 year old Italian pilot was held in Dubai for almost three months after an ex-girlfriend made a complaint to police that he had sent her offensive WhatsApp messages. Falling victim to the UAE’s strict cybercrime laws, Achraf Arjaouy experienced deep depression and was desperate to leave the country but faced a huge fine and jail time.
Detained in Dubai, an organisation founded in 2008 that helps foreigners unfairly detained abroad opened a campaign to free Achraf. Fortunately, less than a week later, the charges were dropped and he was free to return to Italy. “As with Laleh Shahravesh, we are fortunate that Achraf’s case was resolved so quickly but it could have ended very badly”, said CEO Radha Stirling.
“Under the UAE’s strict cybercrime laws, any messages deemed offensive or abusive by the recipient can be reported to authorities. We have seen a British national charged for a private message on Facebook effectively referring to someone as a horse. We’ve seen a woman charged for swearing at her flatmate in a private WhatsApp message and more. What is legal, common and private in the West can mean jail time in Dubai, especially when we have either a financial or vindictive motivation behind a report. The UAE needs to seriously review local cybercrime laws and enforcement procedures to prevent tourists needlessly being locked up or kept in the country for months on end.
“Holding foreigners in the UAE while under investigation over trivial alleged offences is damaging to the country. It allows for spiteful or extortive individuals to abuse the legal system to punish or bribe victims and the first person to report. The mere reporting of these cases is essentially criminal in itself and complainants need to be reviewed for elements of blackmail or harassment”.
About Detained in Dubai:
Our mission is to ensure the security of foreign nationals in the Gulf from unjust detention, wrongful prosecution, and all other violations of their human rights; and to promote reforms in the region that will contribute to the stability of the lives and interests of the expats who reside there.
Detained in Dubai has been assisting foreign victims of injustice in the United Arab Emirates and throughout the Gulf States for over a decade. Employing a formidable combination of specialised legal knowledge, media savvy, and an in-depth understanding of the region; Detained in Dubai has become the go-to organisation for expats in the Gulf who have become entangled in the legal system.
Equal parts legal advisory, communications agency, think tank, and human rights organisation; Detained in Dubai has positioned itself as a uniquely effective advocacy group for clients in need, as strategic advisers for investors and policy makers, and as a valuable resource for international journalists covering the Gulf.
Detained in Dubai was founded in 2008 by Radha Stirling, and under her leadership as CEO, the organisation has helped thousands of victims of injustice, and the breadth of our work and expertise continues to grow; utilising a network of lawyers around the world for multi jurisdictional conflicts as well as with reliable law firms in the Gulf to resolve local disputes. Detained in Dubai frequently coordinates with global human rights groups, business leaders, and politicians to achieve positive outcomes in what can often appear to be impossible situations.
Radha Stirling is regularly called upon to testify as an expert witness for the defence in extradition proceedings to detail both the systemic failures of the legal process in the UAE and endemic human rights violations. She has become a leading international authority on Interpol abuse and a powerful voice for reforms in Interpol and extradition law; having saved innumerable clients from wrongful listings on the Interpol database.
We are convinced that more international visibility and pressure will lead to faster reform and the UAE can become a mutually and culturally respectful, international meeting point for us all.