Dubai policeman jailed over video of footballer Messi's passport
A Dubai police officer who posted a video of himself on social media holding the passport of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi has been sentenced to one month in prison, Emirati website The National reported on Monday.
The 26-year-old Emirati pleaded guilty on the charge of violating Messi's privacy, but said it was only a joke.
He told the judge at the Dubai Misdemeanors Court that what he did was wrong and requested leniency.
The incident occurred in late December when the police officer was in Dubai International Airport's private jet area, while Messi was in Dubai to receive the Player of the Year award at the Globe Soccer Awards.
According to prosecutors, the officer waited for the Barcelona FC footballer to arrive and tried to have his photo taken with him. However, he was told that Messi was "exhausted from the flight".
The officer then picked up Messi's passport from the passport control desk, where he found it, and shot a video of himself holding it.
The clip was posted on Snapchat with the caption: "This is Messi's, he is here in Dubai, what do I do? Shall I burn the passport or just put it back! Ok Ok you can go!"
When he was arrested one day after the clip was posted online, he claimed he had permission from Messi's bodyguard, who was stood next to the passport control desk.
"He was standing there so I spoke to him in English and asked him if I could take a picture of myself with the player’s passport and he said yes," he said.
The officer, who said he deleted the video, said he had "no idea how it got circulated".
"I was just kidding and had never done this thing with anyone else before. I was wrong and I promise I would never repeat such a behaviour," he said.
The police officer added that the passport control officer should not be held responsible for the incident as he had not seen what had happened.