Laleh Shahravesh: British mother faces jail in Dubai for calling ex-husband’s new wife a ‘horse’

Homeless shelter worker called ex-husband an ‘idiot’ and insulted new wife on Facebook after finding out he had remarried

Chiara Giordano
Monday 08 April 2019 08:10
Laleh Shahravesh: British mother faces jail in Dubai for calling ex-husband’s new wife a ‘horse'

A British mother faces two years in a Dubai jail and a £50,000 fine after calling her ex-husband an “idiot” and his new wife a “horse” on Facebook, campaigners claim.

Laleh Shahravesh, 55, who lives in Richmond, London, was detained in the United Arab Emirates last month with her 14-year-old daughter Paris when she attempted to attend the funeral of her ex-partner.

She was arrested over the two Facebook comments which were made in 2016 after her ex-husband Pedro re-married, campaign group Detained in Dubai claims.

Ms Shahravesh had been in Britain when she posted the comments, but her ex-husband, who died of a heart attack on 3 March, and his new wife were living in Dubai.

In Dubai, cybercrime laws mean an old social media post made by a person before they visit the country could still see them fined or jailed for years.

According to Detained in Dubai, Ms Shahravesh’s passport has been confiscated and her daughter had to fly home by herself, where she is staying with friends.

In a statement released through the group, she said: “I am not allowed to leave Dubai. I have been to court once, where I was not allowed to defend myself, and a police station where we were kept waiting for 12 hours without any progress.

“I am terrified. I 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 was married to Portuguese husband Pedro Manuel Coreia Dos Santos for 18 years, and they had daughter Paris together.

They had lived in Dubai for eight months where he worked for HSBC, before she returned to London in 2016 with their daughter.

Ms Shahravesh’s husband was reportedly due to join them in the UK once his work commitments were resolved, however she instead received divorce papers a few months later.

A few months later, the mother is said to have opened Facebook and discovered photos of her ex-husband’s wedding to a 42-year-old Tunisian woman.

She lashed out, writing two comments in Farsi, 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”.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Ms Shahravesh claims she has lost her job at a homeless shelter, can no longer pay the rent on the flat she lives in with her daughter, and that she owes her family more than £5,000 as she has had to stay in hotels in Dubai.

Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, is officially representing Ms Shahravesh.

She said: “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.

“Paris is writing a letter to Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE, to appeal for her mother’s release.

“I also call on Sheikh Mohammed to ensure Laleh is swiftly reunited with her daughter in London and to review the content and application of the UAE’s cybercrime laws.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson told The Independent: “Our staff are supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in the UAE. We are in contact with the UAE authorities regarding her case.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments