Cairo – Since 2018, Sheikha Latifa bint Muhammad Al Maktoum, one of the daughters of the ruler of Dubai, has disappeared after Trying to escape With her privileged and stifling life in a royal palace, her friends insisted that she was returned to her home against her will and held incommunicado.
On Tuesday, they provided video evidence.
Contradicting her family’s insistence that she has quietly enjoyed their time at home with them over the past two years, Sheikha Latifa said in a series of videos posted by her supporters that she was a “hostage” and feared for her life.
“Every day I worry for my safety in my life. In a self-recorded video, Sheikha Latifa said, according to a transcript provided by the attorney working on her case, David Hay, that I really don’t know if I would ever live in this situation.
“The police threatened me that they would take me out and shoot me if I did not cooperate with them,” she said. “They also threatened me that I would be in prison my whole life and never see the sun again.”
The sheikha’s case has sparked outrage outside the UAE starting in 2018 after reports emerged in the international media that she tried to flee Dubai on a yacht driven by a French man who claimed to be a former spy, only for a team of Indian and Emirati special forces. To seize the ship, hold everyone on board, and return it to Dubai.
at The video was recorded Before her trip, she said that she wanted to leave due to the restrictions imposed on her by her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum: She is prohibited from traveling outside Dubai, and her companions follow her everywhere she goes in the city-state. Her father’s judgment.
After the 2018 episode, Sheikha Latifa was never visible in public again.
During most of that time, Hay said, she was secretly recording videos from inside the villa she was being held in, usually locking herself in the bathroom, the only place she was private. After communicating with friends for the first time through messages, she switched to a phone her friends had run to, and they sent regular updates between early 2019 and late 2020, Mr. Hay said.
In these records, according to transcripts, she said she was held in a villa that had been effectively converted into a prison, with the windows closed. She said that five police officers were guarding outside, and two women were inside.
Sheikha Latifa said that her attempt to escape in 2018 was cut short, when commandos stormed the yacht, threw it onto the deck, and tied it to a zipper while trying to stop them and injected sedatives. She said that after being brought back to Dubai by helicopter and private plane, she was interrogated for two weeks and held in solitary confinement in a prison near the airport.
Some of the new videos were first Published by the BBC Tuesday. While their authenticity cannot be independently verified, Mr. Hay said in an interview that he has prepared them for release. Her family could not be reached for comment.
Before Tuesday, the only final glimpse of Sheikha Latifa was in December 2018, after she was brought back to Dubai. Her family posted photos of her sitting in anxiety with Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Mrs. Robinson He said at the time She believes the sheikha was mentally disturbed and recovering in the care of her family. But she now told the BBC that she felt “cheated” when pictures of what she assumed were a private lunch were released.
In one of the videos, Sheikha Latifa said that Princess Haya, one of her father’s wives, persuaded her to come to lunch, but she did not know who Mrs. Robinson was, what the purpose of lunch was, or why her stepmother insisted on taking it. A picture of her with Mrs. Robinson. She said she just agreed to be “polite.”
As for Ms. Robinson’s comments at the time, Sheikha Latifa said in one of the videos that “the statements about being with my family or receiving treatment or recovery are a lie.”
Her family repeatedly insisted that she do what she described as “propaganda,” she said.
“They wanted me to make a video and say I’m here happily and voluntarily.” She said in one of the videos, according to a transcript.
Princess Haya has also come to support her stepdaughter’s account of events. at Court documents Raised in Britain last year after the princess She left Dubai with her young children She filed for divorce from the sheikh, saying that Sheikha Latifa and one of the sheikha’s sisters had been severely punished for trying to escape in the past.
Haig said that the videos of Sheikha Latifa were stopped by late 2020, prompting him and Tina Jauhiainen, the Finnish capoeira teacher who accompanied the sheikha on board, to release them.
The timing of their arrival has also been determined, as the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will hold a session on the sheikha’s case.