Facebook post lands Australian woman in UAE prison

Screenshot from Facebook (Jodi Magi)
A female Australian artist was arrested and jailed in Abu Dhabi for “writing bad words on social media,” after reportedly posting a picture of a car parked across two disabled parking spots on Facebook.

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Jodi Magi, 39, was arrested by United Arab Emirates police and put into prison, after being found guilty of “writing bad words on social media about a person,” ABC reported.

“No one is talking to me, no one is telling me what’s going on,” Magi said. “And they were about to put me in male lock-up and then they turned me away – no one knows what to do with me. I’m pretty scared.”

Magi reportedly took a picture of a car parked across two parking spots for the disabled, but with no permit stickers visible. When posting the image to Facebook, she blackened out the license plate number and did not mention any names.

After being detained, Magi said she was driven around in a car for around four hours. She was also forced to sign several documents in Arabic without any translation. It is not yet known how for long she will be imprisoned.

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Magi has been living in Abu Dhabi since 2012, teaching design and working on her art projects, which include political satire.

She said that the Australian embassy has failed to provide any real help, aside from advising her to get a lawyer.

“I’m not sure if it was me being naive. I was under the impression that embassies were in countries to help their citizens in times of difficulty,” she said. “But from my experience it seems that their job here seems to be to generate business and they have no interest in anything other than that.”

In a statement to ABC, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said that it “continues to provide consular assistance to an Australian woman detained in Abu Dhabi and that for privacy reasons they cannot provide any more information.”