American woman who 'insulted' Emirates to be deported

American woman who 'insulted' Emirates to be deported
After being acquitted of "insulting the UAE" based on a psychological evaluation that showed mental illness, an American woman will be deported from the UAE.
2 min read
31 May, 2016
The judge ordered that she undergo a psychological evaluation [Getty]

An American woman who has been acquitted of "insulting the UAE" after a psychological evaluation showed she was mentally ill will be deported, according to Emirati newspaper The National.

The unnamed 25-year-old, who had been in custody since 23 February, was charged with "verbally insulting the country and its leaders", which she denied.

The defendant had told the court that she was waiting for a taxi when two men approached her and did not like the way she spoke to them, adding that she did not know why she was on trial and that nothing happened.

"The men tried to help me. I had another flight to catch at 1.29am. I refused to engage with them and nothing happened," she said during her indictment.

Her parents had requested a lawyer through the US embassy, which she refused, waiving her right to legal counsel.

"Mental competence is a substantial component of any defence case," the judge told the defendant during her initial sentencing hearing.

"I can't sentence you today with a request stating that you might have been unaware and irresponsible for your actions."

Unlike in many Western countries, defamation is treated in the UAE as a criminal rather than a civil matter. Insulting the UAE's leaders, or the country itself, can carry a prison sentence and steep fines.

There have been plenty of cases where UAE residents were arrested and tried under the country's cybercrime law, which criminalises all forms of "electronic abuse".

Earlier this year, two men were detained for seven days after taking "selfies" outside a Dubai hotel while it was on fire.

In 2013, a 29-year-old US citizen from Minnesota was accused of defaming the country's image abroad for posting a spoof video online about youth culture in the UAE.

He spent nine months in prison before being deported and fined the equivalent of $2,700.