Abu Dhabi, Jul 15: An Australian woman was deported from the United Arab Emirates after being arrested and fined for "insulting" social media posts, according to a judicial source in Abu Dhabi.
Jodi Magi, 39, appeared in an Abu Dhabi court and was taken into custody on July 12 before being placed on a flight to Bangkok - her "destination of choice" - yesterday evening, the same source said. The trouble began in February, when she posted on her Facebook page a photo of a car illegally parked between two places reserved for disabled drivers near her apartment in Abu Dhabi.
The picture was accompanied by "insulting, degrading remarks", said the source. Following a complaint from the car's owner, a European, Magi admitted having posted the photo online but not the incriminating text, the source added. In April, the Australian was sentenced in absentia to pay a fine of 10,000 dirhams (USD 2,720) and deportation.
She appeared in court with a lawyer and interpreter to appeal against the verdict the following month, but to no avail and her sentence was confirmed in June. Magi posted on her personal website late yesterday that she was going to "decompress in Laos" after being in custody for 53 hours.
She said she had been "shackled at the ankles, strip-searched, blood tested, forced to sleep on a concrete floor without a mattress or pillow and having no access to toilet paper or eating utensils".
"Obviously, I think a (Aus 3600 dollars) fine and deportation with a complimentary incarceration period was an extreme reaction to a jpg (image) of a car posted to a closed Facebook page, when I did not swear or mention a single name and blocked the registration plate," Magi added in a long post on her website.
Magi said she was "pretty traumatised" by the experience, but added to being "forever heartbroken" by stories of the other women she met while in jail.