I waited to go public with this because I wanted to preserve his privacy, and thank you for understanding the cryptic nature of my communication lately.
On Saturday morning Diz flew into Dubai airport and was detained at immigration. We kind of knew he would be profiled because he has long hair and looks oriental (they are very racist against Asians in Dubai, and ultra-conservative). He knew the score going in: prescription drugs are illegal, dress conservatively and detox for a week (even trace amounts of either illegal or prescription drugs in the urine are prosecuted as 'drug smuggling'. I'm not joking).
They found melatonin on him, which he bought over the counter in the US. Legally, you can even buy it over the counter in Dubai.
They arrested him, anyway.
He was strip searched, forced to do a urine test and thrown in jail. In their search they dug into the bottom of his bag and came up with a few fragments of dirt, which they allege is hashish, which is totally outrageous. They also claimed that the melatonin was actually drugs, which was equally, clearly absurd.
The sentence if convicted is a blanket four years, with a minimum of six months in prison in one of Dubai's squalid, third world facilities.
After detaining him for three days, the melatonin was determined to be just that, and his urine was clear. Now they've asked for a seven day extension to test the dirt, and we trust that he will be on his way home after that.
They've been psychologically abusing all of us. One minute we're told they'll let him go as soon as they test the pills, the next we're told they are going through and pressing charges against him. Taking care of his affairs and keeping all of his close friends and relations, spanning four continents, up to date has been a full time job. Nadya, myself and Scott (his friend in Dubai: read his account here) have been working around the clock, ready to wage a campaign for his freedom in the event that he is charged. Scotty and Nadya are both pretty much fucking angels.
I spoke to him for the first time today. He rang me and answered my greeting with "Hello from the Dubai tourism board!", so rest assure he is in good spirits and taking all of this very well.
What can you do?
He wants your emails and letters. He's bored as hell. Send them to me at mildredvon at yahoo dot come and I'll make sure they get to him. He hasn't been charged with anything as yet, so there's not much we can do but wait.
In the event they decide to prosecute him we will wage a campaign for his release and we will need all the help we can get for it, but we're keeping our fingers crossed for an acquittal and apology over the next seven days.
Obviously, we're preparing for the worst. We have no guarantee they're not going to sentence him, and they've been threatening us with this possibility every time the consulate tells us things are going well. We've begun the task of taking care of his affairs in London in case they hold him more than the ten days. Things could always be a lot worse, and he's being treated well and has so much love and support from all of you guys.
The moral of this story is, no one is safe: If you go to Dubai, you are guilty until proven innocent under their unique little brand of sharia-lite laws. DO NOT be fooled by their campaign of hearts and minds and their self appointed branding as some sort of open-minded oasis in the Middle East. Diz is not alone: he is actually in the company of many other hapless victims who were singled out to make an example of. Do not think this could not happen to you. His story needs to get out so this does not happen to anyone else.
This is the message we need to get across: Dubai is not a safe tourist destination for Westerners.
Do your own research, and here are just a few links to get you started:
Woman hospitalized in Dubai and given painkillers, arrested at airport for it
Briton held in Dubai for painkillers in system
Canadian anti-drug agent arrested for...drugs
15 year old tourist accused of homosexual acts after being gang raped