Student sentenced to one year in prison after touching airport security guard's arm in Dubai is freed
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Featured Image Credit: Detained in Dubai
A student sentenced to a year in prison for touching a security guard’s arm has been freed.
Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos had been travelling from Istanbul to New York when the incident happened.
Though she faced being jailed in one of the United Arab Emirates’ most infamous prisons, the 21-year-old is ‘ecstatic’ as she heads home, according to advocacy group Detained in Dubai.
It follows a lengthy detainment by officials, with the Lehman College student being held for nearly three months.
Originally, Los Santos had landed in Dubai for a connecting flight with a layover of just six hours.
Intrigued by the Middle Eastern city though, her and a friend changed their plans – totally unaware of the ramifications it would have.
After landing in Dubai and going through security, the student was asked to remove a waist brace which she’d been wearing after a recent surgery.
Having been moved to a booth, she claimed that the female staff member ‘roughly’ removed the medical brace and then laughed at her as struggled to get it back on.
It’s then that the alleged assault occurred, with Los Santos reportedly calling out to a friend to help her and leaning past the security guard, ‘gently’ touching her arm to move her out of the way.
After this, a complaint over alleged 'assaulting and insulting' was filed against her and the 21-year-old was detained – marking the beginning of her horrific ordeal.
Thankfully, the advocacy group now report that the college student is finally on her way home.
According to Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, she boarded a flight on Tuesday night (Oct 3) back to New York after her sentence was commuted.
It comes just a day after the student was told she faced up to a year in prison.
Stirling told the press: “We are of course thankful that Elizabeth is on her way home but is that really a happy ending? She should have been home in May.
“Instead, she has been left with the scars of an incomprehensibly traumatic experience for a young student, she has lost US$50,000 that she will never be compensated for.
“Furthermore, she’s been convicted on the basis of mere allegations, sentenced to a year’s prison, fined and deported. That in itself is a disgrace.”
Following Los Santos' detention, there have been increased calls for warnings for US tourists visiting the UAE.