A 25-year-old U.S. woman is facing misdemeanor charges following a supposed altercation at Abu Dhabi’s International Airport. The AP reports that the American woman allegedly verbally “insulted” two men after they approached her while she was waiting for a taxi. The woman appeared in court on Monday to face the charges, and she has been in jail since February 23. The National, a government-owned newspaper in Abu Dhabi, reported that the woman did not like the way the two men spoke to her. The paper released a statement from the woman, who said she “refused to engage with them and nothing happened.”
The United Arab Emirates has strict laws against certain kinds of expression, and does not take kindly to threats or defamation against itself or representatives. Defamation is treated as a criminal act, and being found guilty of the crime comes with heavy fines and imprisonment. The AP reports that in 2013, a young man who posted a video online spoofing youth culture in the UAB was sentenced to nine months in prison, along with a $2,700 fine.
The woman, who has not been named, will be handed a verdict on May 2. The U.S. embassy told the AP that it “is aware of the case and is providing consular services.”