Dubai rape case Norwegian woman ‘free to go’
Dubai ruler pardons Norwegian woman convicted after she reported rape
A Norwegian woman at the centre of a Dubai rape case dispute has been pardoned and is free to leave Dubai, she has said.
Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped in March.
She reported the attack to the police, but was charged with perjury, having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol, receiving a 16-month prison sentence.
The case has angered rights groups and the Norwegian authorities.
Ms Dalelv had had her passport returned and was free to leave the country, a Norwegian official told the BBC. She was not being deported, and was expected to return to Norway in the next few days.
A worker at the Norwegian Seamen’s Centre in Dubai, where Ms Dalelv has been allowed to stay since she was sentenced last week, said Ms Dalelv was “relieved and happy” at the news.
In Norway, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide tweeted: “Marte is released! Thanks to everyone who signed up to help.”
The Norwegian government said it had been in daily contact with the Dubai authorities through diplomatic and official channels since Ms Dalelv was sentenced - arguing the jail term represented a human rights violation.
Ms Dalelv went public about the sentence last week in a series of interviews.
Ms Dalelv says she had been on a night out with colleagues on 6 March when the rape took place.
She reported it to the police, who proceeded to confiscate her passport and seize her money. She was charged four days later on three counts, including having sex outside marriage.
Her alleged attacker, she said, received a 13-month sentence for extramarital sex and alcohol consumption.
The man she accused of raping her - a colleague - has also been pardoned, a Norwegian official has said.
Despite developing fast as a cosmopolitan tourism destination in recent years, Dubai remains deeply conservative, and its strict laws have caught out foreigners in the past.
Public displays of affection and drunkenness are frowned upon.
Rights record criticized
The United Arab Emirates has been heavily criticized by rights groups, which say it condones sexual violence against women. Human Rights Watch has called its record “shameful,” saying it must change the way it handles such cases.
In December 2012, a British woman reported being raped by three men in Dubai. She was found guilty of drinking alcohol without a license and fined.
In January 2010, a British woman told authorities she was raped by an employee at a Dubai hotel. She was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage.
An Australian woman reported in 2008 that she was drugged and gang-raped. She was convicted of having sex outside marriage and drinking alcohol, and she was sentenced to 11 months in prison.