An Australian woman, who was arrested in Abu Dhabi last month over a Facebook post and later deported, said Wednesday that her punishment was extreme. Jodi Magi was found guilty of cybercrime offense and spent two days in jail for posting a photo of an illegally parked car outside her apartment.
"After 53 hours in custody, having been shackled at the ankles, strip-searched, blood tested, forced to sleep on a concrete floor without a mattress or pillow and having no access to toilet paper or eating utensils, I can happily say I AM SAFE & OUT OF JAIL AND ABU DHABI!" the 39-year-old said in a Facebook post.
Magi, who posted the photo in February, had blacked out the number plate of the car from the picture. She reportedly said in an interview that she did not know what she had done wrong.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Tuesday that Magi was detained before her planned deportation could take place, BBC reported. Magi and her husband were reportedly provided with consular assistance.
“Obviously, I think a $3600 ($2,685) fine and deportation with a complimentary incarceration period was an extreme reaction to a jpg of a car when I did not swear or mention a single name and blocked the registration plate,” Magi said in the Facebook post, adding: “Even though I am pretty traumatised by my own experience, what has affected me more are the many, many stories told to me by my fellow inmates at both the jails I 'visited'. I will be forever heartbroken by the treatment of these inspiring and courageous women from the Philippines, India, Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, Bangladesh, Syria etc at the hands of the U.A.E. 'Justice System.'
"I know 1000% after hearing their stories that I would never have been released in such a speedy fashion without a) my Australian nationality, b) the media coverage (surreal), c) the belated efforts of the embassy and d) all of the support from my friends as well as people I have never even met," she added.
Magi, who appeared in court on July 12, was put on a flight to Bangkok on Tuesday, Sky News, an Australian news network reported. The report also cited a judicial source, who said that the photo posted by Magi was accompanied by “insulting, degrading remarks.” Magi accepted that she had put the photo online, but reportedly denied posting the text.
Ahmed Mansoor, a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee, said that he was not shocked by Magi’s case. Mansoor was jailed for eight months in 2011 for allegedly insulting top officials and also had his passport confiscated, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"These are regular practices for anyone who expresses an opinion that might be considered as inappropriate by the security authorities," Mansoor reportedly said, adding: "We live in a fully-fledged police state, there is no freedom of expression... there are so many 'guns' pointed at the heads of people who express themselves, from not getting work, from being arrested, interrogated, taken to secret detention."