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Copyright © Detained in Dubai 2007-2018.  Detained in Dubai Limited, is registered in England and Wales under company number 11248768 with its registered office at Kemp House, 180 City Road, London  EC1 2NX UK

News & Updates - Princess Latifa 2019

Princess Latifa Timeline

 

  • Sheikha Latifa found and contacted US/French national Cptn early 2011. Hervé Jaubert, a former French secret service agent, to seek his assistance in her second escape attempt.  She contacted him because he had himself escaped in 2008 and written a book called “Escape from Dubai”. This gave her comfort that he would not have association to her father, the ruler of Dubai, from whom she was seeking to escape

 

  • Over the course of seven years, Latifa and Hervé were in regular contact as they planned the details of her departure.

 

  • In July 2017, Hervé advised Latifa to enlist assistance from a female in Dubai to assist with her cover.  She hired a Finnish woman, Tiina Jauhiainen, who then asked for assistance from a French national, to help Latifa exit the UAE.

 

  • On February 24, 2018,  Latifa navigated her jet ski to meet Hervé outside of Omani territorial waters and they sailed towards Goa, India.

 

  • During this time, Hervé and Latifa approached expert witness Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai, an organisation established in 2007 to assist foreigners facing injustices in the UAE.  Radha was known to Hervé since 2007. Latifa requested assistance from Radha in media and legal matters. Screenshots and unpublished voicemails are available on request.

 

 

  • At this time, Radha deployed an “all hands on deck” emergency response, contacted the Indian Coast Guard, the US Coast Guard, the UAE government, UK police forces and the FBI to notify them of the attack, contacted Latifa’s US attorney who provided a video testimony that Latifa had recorded prior to her escape.  Radha released it immediately upon receiving it in hope that this would ensure her safety.  The video discussed how Latifa had been tortured, abused and jailed and other crimes of Sheikh Mohammed, her father.

 

 

  • Once authorities became aware of media involvement and after pressure from the US government, approximately 2 weeks later, on  March 20 2018,  Hervé and the crew were released from the UAE.

 

  • Hervé was brought to London, UK where a press conference was organised and a campaign for Latifa’s freedom.  Initially, the UAE and India sought to deny Latifa’s existence, releasing photos of a different Latifa to press in an attempt to distract and cause doubt.  The evidence however, was overwhelming and the UAE therefore, took the position of silence. They ignored communications from the United Nations.

 

  • From March onwards, Detained in Dubai published ongoing press releases in order to dispel UAE generated myths and to maintain focus on Latifa’s release and recruited the support of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along with social media supporters like KimDotCom, Daryl Hannah etc. who helped raise awareness in the United States.

 

 

 

  • A supportive campaign and fundraiser named #FreeLatifa was launched in 2018 but in December, Detained in Dubai, Hervé Jaubert and barrister Toby Cadman resigned from the campaign, though Detained in Dubai and Hervé Jaubert continue to seek Latifa’s freedom.

 

  • Earlier in 2019, Princess Haya spoke with RTE in a lengthy radio interview about Latifa.  She explained that if she had any concern for Latifa’s safety, she would not stand for it, she would leave.  She also said that Latifa was a troubled young woman and that it is a “private family matter”. Princess Haya was further criticised by Detained in Dubai and other organisations for circumventing United Nations protocols, given her status as an ambassador. 

 

  • Following rumours in Arab media, it was dramatically confirmed that Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed had separated and that he had initiated proceedings in the British family courts for custody of his children.  Princess Haya had circulated that she left after having discovered disturbing information about her stepdaughter Latifa and that she was in fear for her life.  Sheikh Mohammed’s side circulated that Princess Haya was unfaithful. Haya’s lawyer has started very aggressively in applying for a protection order against forced marriage for her children and it remains to be seen whether they will achieve a privately negotiated agreement.  Stirling was invited on the same RTE discussion panel show in July 2019 to discuss Princess Haya’s behaviour and the impact on Latifa, analysing her earlier comments to the broadcaster.

 

 

  • These custody proceedings have been the catalyst for Sheikh Mohammed to finally agree to meet with the United Nations to discuss Latifa’s situation.  He is allegedly agreeing to have the UN meet Latifa, though it is unlikely this would be in an unsupervised capacity and is thus, unlikely to satisfy public concern for her safety.

 

  • On another note, tensions were high between the UAE and Jordan when the situation was initially published.  There was concern that the UAE would sanction Jordan if Princess Haya continued to be acrimonious. Shortly thereafter, Jordan re-established diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Dubai's allegations:

  • The position of Dubai is that Latifa was manipulated, taken advantage of and has mental health issues, rumoured “bi-polar”.  Hervé Jaubert, who has known her the longest, does not believe this to be true and, even if it were, this does not allow her to be deprived of her human right to freedom of movement.

  • Hervé was asked by media upon his release how much he had been paid which was $350,000 inclusive of costs to help Latifa escape.  It has recently been alleged that Latifa paid Tiina Jauheinen a monthly wage of US$15,000 over a three year period, as well as transferring money for her to Finland, and providing her with lavish gifts, including a villa in Spain and a $50,000 diamond Rolex watch.  Dubai has cited Tiina’s financial gain as evidence that Latifa was manipulated and conveyed this to Mary Robinson during her visit.  Regardless of any payments received, it remains clear that Latifa had sought freedom of her own accord.

 

  • Radha has appointed Queen’s Counsel John Cooper and Matthew Heywood to assist with the ongoing United Nations inquiries and has made fresh information submissions to the UN.  These parties were carefully appointed by Radha as they have no association or bias to Qatar and are acting entirely in a pro bono capacity.  Latifa had specifically advised Radha that she did not want her matter politicised or used by Qatar, given the blockade, as this could dilute her story and make the UAE less likely to agree to a resolution with the United Nations.

 

  • Since the attack on Nostromo, Radha has spoken at a Frontiers of Freedom forum in Washington DC, and raised the attack on Nostromo with major US media.  Information has further been discovered that KVH had provided Nostromo’s coordinates and we are coordinating legal actions in NY to pursue KVH, who have been very evasive to our questioning.

 

  • John Cooper QC and Matthew Heywood have discovered India and UAE to be in violation of a number of laws and are preparing legal actions against both countries on behalf of Cptn. Jaubert.  We expect this to prompt further cooperation in Latifa’s situation, but also to ensure that countries do not act belligerently in the future. Without accountability, precedent will be set for further Khashoggi style incidents.

 

  • Male Guardianship:  Over the past year, we have assisted with several cases of women fleeing the gulf region, one of them, Emirati “Hind Albolooki” who fled an abusive situation and managed to seek asylum in Germany.  We have also been contacted by persecuted homosexual young men who are equally seeking a way to escape their families.

 

  • In Latifa’s case, Hervé Jaubert was advised by Sheikh Mohammed’s men that Latifa was the property of Mohammed, and that helping a woman leave her family without the father’s permission, is a kin to kidnapping, even if she is in her 30’s.

 

  • Following the release of Hervé Jaubert, the UAE government listed him on Interpol’s database for “kidnapping”.  Submissions were made to Interpol who removed the notice from Hervé’s passport and he is currently awaiting confirmation that they have removed it from his other passport.  The abuse of Interpol over the past decade by Middle Eastern countries has been discrediting to the organisation and Radha Stirling is part of a working group in Washington DC, formed to influence policy makers in the US to pressure Interpol reforms.

 

  • It is clear that male guardianship is prevalent in the UAE and especially within the ruling families.  Latifa’s very public escape has inspired young women in the gulf region to escape themselves and we have received many requests for assistance as a result.

 

  • Allegations were attributed to Hervé’s ex wife that Radha and Hervé had planned the escape together.  This is inaccurate, has been publicly addressed and evidence is available. Further, the ex wife has (in writing) denied having made these statements.  Radha was contacted after Latifa was on Nostromo for the purpose of requesting her to publish the escape and to seek specialist advice on extradition if she were arrested.  Radha had to rigorously validate this information, as well as her identity given that the contact was unexpected.

 

  • Allegations were made that Hervé sent messages to the UAE seeking money from Sheikh Mohammed.  This rumour is rigorously denied by all parties and appears to have been engineered by the UAE and the information passed to people like Mary Robinson, security services, press etc.  No such extortive demand was made by Hervé and this rumour is believed to have started from privileged correspondence between Hervé, Latifa and their US attorney that referred to future plans to contact Sheikh Mohammed from America to request her passport, to agree to sign an NDA and agree to compensation as is standard practice in these situations.  There is no genuine basis for this allegation.

 

  • Further allegations were made that Qatar was funding actions against the UAE.  Detained in Dubai is entirely privately funded by commercial clients (similar to a law firm) and provides extensive pro bono assistance to clients in need.  Detained in Dubai/Radha Stirling, in 11 years of operation, has never accepted charitable donations or funding from any government or other entity. Detained in Dubai’s partner organisation is “Detained in Doha” and is actively outspoken against Qatar injustices.  The group has no bias for Qatar. Hervé Jaubert has not received funding from Qatar (or anyone). Stirling has invested significant pro bono time of her own (and her staff) into Latifa’s case, as well as at least $35,000 in actual costs and expenses.

 

  • Allegations remain against those involved with the #freelatifa campaign for receiving funding from several sources including Qatar, and lawyer Rodney Dixon is highly cited on google as having ties to Qatar.  Sources advise that Sheikh Mohammed has conveyed to the United Nations that there are vested interests and manipulation involved, to discredit at least some of the information provided to them, and to persuade them that Latifa is in his “loving care”.

 

  • There is a lot of disinformation and inaccurately presented data, and misrepresented historical facts that has been published.  We welcome fact checking.

On the 31st of December 2018, Detained in Dubai announced:

 

"Detained in Dubai and Radha Stirling are no longer directly involved in the #FreeLatifa campaign or www.freelatifa.com website or associated fundraising.  

Radha Stirling and Detained in Dubai continue to support efforts to secure Princess Latifa's ultimate freedom, the preservation and promotion of human rights and equality for women in the Middle East.

As an organisation we are primarily concerned with the extent to which foreign visitors and residents in these countries may be victimised by repressive laws and discriminatory practices.  Our advocacy for reforms are part of our effort to ensure that expats, tourists, investors and businesspeople in the Gulf are safe; and that these countries comply with their international legal obligations to protect human rights, provide due process, conduct fair trials, and respect the treaties and charters to which they are signatories.  As long as oppressive, discriminatory laws remain, including those against women, the environment in Gulf countries is highly risky for foreigners. We play a role in helping to bring GCC nations in line with international standards of justice, and highlighting those areas which need development; this naturally includes addressing the plight of women.

 

Sheikha Latifa contacted Radha Stirling during her escape attempt and appealed for her assistance.  The situation was unfolding rapidly at that time, and I pledged to help in any way we could.  She soon called Stirling in a panic to say that the boat she was on was under attack, and all communication abruptly ceased.  We immediately filed missing persons reports for Latifa and all onboard, liaised with Latifa’s lawyer, released her video, and pushed for her story to be published. Subsequently, we appointed barrister Toby Cadman to submit an application with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances who then launched an enquiry into Latifa’s abduction.  We also filed a report with the FBI over the raid on the American registered yacht Latifa was using to flee the UAE. These investigations are ongoing.

 

There is no satisfactory update on Latifa’s condition.  We are relieved to know she is alive, though cognisant of the fact that she herself said she would rather die than be returned to the UAE.  Mary Robinson’s visit did nothing to assuage fears about Latifa’s welfare, and Ms Robinson would have been better advised to decline the invitation to visit, and instead encourage the government to respond to the United Nations enquiry.