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Missouri mother & horse bite victim faces 5 years in UAE jail for requesting unpaid wages

Animal rescue volunteer Nichole Coffel faces 5 years in Abu Dhabi prison

Missouri mother of 3, Traci Nichole Coffel (Nichole), is facing a possible jail term in Abu Dhabi because she asked for her unpaid wages and compensation for medical bills after her employer’s horse bit her. Instead of paying Nichole what she owed, celebrated UAE jockey, Anoud Sultan Al Suwaidi filed a complaint on June 9th against her with the police, alleging Nichole violated Cybercrime laws by insulting her in the messages she sent requesting her wages.

Nichole had not been paid for 3 months, and had suffered a severe injury when Al Suwaidi’s stallion bit her. In her WhatsApp messages to Al Suwaidi, Nichole pleaded for her salary and compensation, telling her that it was “haram” not to pay people; using the Arabic word for “religiously forbidden” in an attempt to persuade Al Suwaidi. In her complaint to police, Suwaidi alleged that Nichole had called her “harami”, an Arabic word meaning “thief” or “bastard”; which is regarded as a serious insult in the Gulf.

According to UAE Cybercrime laws, any perceived insult or slander communicated via electronic means is treated as a criminal act, with sentences ranging from fines to lengthy prison sentences and Nichole was told by Abu Dhabi police that she faces up to 5 years in prison. “Nichole did not threaten or insult Ms Al Suwaidi, she simply asked to be paid for her work and for her injuries,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who has taken up Nichole’s case. “The police who registered the complaint did not speak English, and the language Nichole used in her messages was mistranslated. Nichole herself was held for hours and questioned without a translator until finally the US embassy insisted they provide one remotely. Nichole's request for payment was calculatedly misconstrued in order to fit the UAE’s opaque definition of a Cybercrime violation, and to distract from Ms Al Suwaidi’s own responsibility to pay Nichole’s wages.”

This is not the first manipulation of the country’s blurry Cybercrime laws. Last March, British nation