An American woman has spent more than a month in jail in the United Arab Emirates for ‘insulting’ the state in public when two men approached her at the airport.
The 25-year-old woman is on trial at the Federal Supreme Court after being charged with insulting the country and its leaders through verbal assault.
On Monday, the woman told the court that she was waiting for a taxi at Abu Dhabi International Airport when two men approached her and spoke to her in a manner she did not like.
“The men tried to help me. I had another flight to catch at 1.29am,” she told the judge, according to Arab newspaper, a government-owned newspaper in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. “I refused to engage with them and nothing happened,” she added.
The woman who was arrested on February 23 and charged with misdemeanour told the judge she did not know why she was on trial. It is unknown whether any evidence was presented against her.
The woman asked the judge if she could be released from jail after paying a fine. A verdict has been set for May 2.
The UAE has strict laws governing expression. Defamation is treated in the UAE as a criminal rather than a civil matter. Insulting the UAE’s leaders, or the country can carry a prison sentence and hefty fines.