Detained in Dubai
Princess Latifa: Kidnapped royal reportedly in fresh photos allowed ‘limited freedom’....
Princess Latifa: Kidnapped royal reportedly in fresh photos allowed ‘limited freedom’ in recent weeks
Human rights lawyer Radha Stirling says her sources say the royal has been allowed to go shopping and to attend family gatherings in recent weeks.
Princess Latifa – who appears to have been photographed in public for the first time in years – seems to have been allowed “limited freedom” by her father, her former lawyer has said.
Two images have appeared on Instagram this week purportedly of the princess, who tried to flee the UAE in 2018, with friends in Dubai.
There are reports that the royal has been shopping and attended family gatherings in recent weeks.
Princess Latifa’s plight has captivated the world since she claimed she was kidnapped and detained by Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In mid-February, BBC Panorama aired video footage from her in which she claims she was being “held hostage” and was in fear for her life.
While the photos have not been verified, and UAE has not commented, friends of the princess told the BBC that the first image was legitimate.
Human rights lawyer Radha Stirling, who was on the phone to Princess Latifa when she was taken from the yacht as she tried to escape UAE, said that the photo seems to be authentic and that her sources have told her the royal has been allowed more freedom in recent weeks.
“It seems UAE have allowed this to be released as proof of life,” said the founder of Detained in Dubai. “They have said in a statement before that the plan is for her to return to public life.
“I recognise some of the people commenting on the photos as friends of Latifa’s from the sky diving community.
“I’ve been told that Latifa has been out and about in Dubai, but I can’t yet verify it. I believe she’s been shopping for her brother’s new twins and attended some family gatherings in the last few weeks.”
[Radha Stirling from Detained in Dubai says she’s haunted by the night Princess Latifa contacted her from the yacht she was seized by special forces from (Photo: Radha Stirling)]
Allegations of years of abuse
An image was posted on Instagram on Thursday on the accounts of both of the women pictured with Princess Latifa. One of them is former Royal Navy member Sioned Taylor who wrote “Lovely evening at MoE with friends.” MoE is believed to be Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates.
While posts on the social networking do not include metadata, which would show the date and time the photograph was taken, in the background a cinema advertising can be seen featuring the film Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which was released in the UAE on 13 May 2021.
Sioned Taylor, believed to be a Dubai-based maths teacher, posted another photo captioned “Lovely food at Bice Mare with Latifa earlier”. Bice Mare is an Italian seafood restaurant overlooking Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain. Latifa and Sioned are dressed differently than in the earlier photo, suggesting the pictures may have been taken on different days.
The now 35-year-old Latifa accused the head of the dynasty of years of control and abuse. In early 2018 she and a friend left to go to India by car, then used jet skis to board the US yacht Nostromo. The goal of her escape attempt, which was reportedly planned for over seven years, was to fly to the US and claim asylum.
However, she was forcibly returned from international waters near the Indian coast by a joint India–Emirates special forces operation on 4 March using unmarked speedboats and a helicopter.
The princess is believed to have been held against her will since then on the orders of the sheikh.
In 2002, when Latifa was 16, she tried to flee to Oman. But she was caught in a vehicle at the border, a friend reports, before being imprisoned for three and a half years, during which time she claimed she was tortured.
Her sister, Princess Shamsa, was 19 [above] when she was snatched from the street in Cambridge just over two decades ago. She has not been seen in public since.
A High Court judge ruled in 2019 that the sheikh abducted both daughters and held them against their will. He claims the raid on the Nostromo was a rescue mission, and has consistently denied allegations of abuse.
Cambridgeshire officers investigating Shamsa’s disappearance were blocked from going to Dubai amid accusations of diplomatic interference and questions about the behaviour of one of the UK’s most powerful state ally. Sheikh Mohammed is one of the world’s biggest racehorse owners and is heavily involved in the British racing industry. The Foreign Office has said the allegation of Shamsa’s kidnapping was a private matter between two individuals.
There are ‘questions to answer’
Radha said that the UAE and the UK and US authorities all still have “questions to answer”.
“The UAE can’t just release two photos and that’s it,” she said. “A major event happened in international waters involving the kidnapping of citizens. The UK and US authorities have turned a blind eye, which has given the UAE the green light to commit crimes.
“This was a US yacht and we’ve reported it to the FBI but it’s been swept under the carpet. We are also still hearing allegations about deaths in prisons and torture in prisons in Dubai.
“And of course we still haven’t heard from Princess Shamsa and don’t know if she is safe.”
[British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Sheikh Mohammed in Downing Street on 10 December 2020 (Photo: Gareth Fuller/WPA Pool/Getty)]
However, she said she is hopeful that Princess Latifa can obtain more freedom.
“She seems to have limited freedom now which is a good thing,” said Radha. “When Latifa has had freedom she has used her phone to communicate with the media and so she is having to regain the UAE’s trust. They don’t want her on Oprah slating the Royal family.”
The London embassy of the UAE has been approached for comment.
‘I’m haunted by the night Latifa disappeared’
Radha describes it as a call “nobody ever wants to receive”. On 4 March 2018, the desperate princess phoned her lawyer friend for help from the US flagged yacht Nostromo as she tried to flee UAE.
“Latifa told me there were men outside and she didn’t know what was happening,” her account goes.
“She heard gunshots. I told her to hide, hang up the phone and make voicemails and videos that I could use as evidence. She swung into action and tried to record messages, but communications were abruptly stopped.” Radha’s communication with both Latifa and captain Hervé Jaubert ceased.
Radha told i: “I’m haunted by that night, yes. I just wanted to help her.”
Full article available at inews