American Woman Allowed to Leave UAE After Cybercrime Charges Are Dropped

An American woman who faced two years in prison for an alleged cybercrime in the United Arab Emirates because she called a man a “dirty animal” for harassing her and sharing intimate photos with others has finally been allowed to leave the country. 

Melissa McBurnie, a mother of one from California who previously worked as a personal assistant to celebrities like Rob Lowe, John Denver and Joan Rivers, has finally departed the UAE after living there since last November.

“Just a couple of days ago, the charges were dropped,” Radha Stirling, a United Kingdom-based activist who has been advocating for McBurnie, told The Christian Post. “After our little media campaign, she went in front of the prosecuting judge and he said he’s going to drop all of the charges. And she was allowed to leave the country.”

McBurnie, 57, was accused of violating the country’s strict cybercrime laws that can punish anyone who has used the internet to insult or slander someone in any form.

According to Radha’s organization, Detained in Dubai, McBurnie has for the past four years been the victim of sexual harassment and a cyberbullying campaign after she refused to get involved in an affair with a 58-year-old Egyptian man.

Over the last two years, McBurnie was sent over 120 sexually explicit emails and text messages, some of which included pornographic videos of the Egyptian man. The man is also accused of sending intimate images of McBurnie to strangers. He also allegedly asked third parties to slander her.

McBurnie sent an email asking the man she says stalked her on Facebook since 2015 to stop communicating with her and called him a “dirty animal.”

“He had stolen photographs of her and circulated them privately and even to the U.S. Embassy,” Stirling explained. “He breached her trust. When she retaliated, she said, ‘I can’t believe you did that, you are a dirty animal.’ He then raised that with his lawyer and had her arrested for calling him a ‘dirty animal.’”

Under the UAE’s cybercrime law, no one is allowed to insult anyone in any electronic form. On Feb. 24, McBurnie was arrested at the Khalidiya police station in Abu Dhabi. She endured two hours of detention and paid the equivalent of a $1,300 bond for bail.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith