A Florida woman has been detained in Dubai for nearly two years for failure to pay a fine for a crime she says she didn’t commit. Danielle Jeffries, 58, had been working in the United Arab Emirates for three years before she was convicted of forgery in November 2018, the Miami Herald reported.
The Miami Gardens resident was fined $40,000 in U.S. dollars and sentenced to three months in jail. She couldn’t afford the fine so has been fighting to be released from the country ever since.
“Danielle Jeffries is a Black woman in a Middle Eastern legal system and this in itself will influence her access to a fair trial,” Detained in Dubai CEO and Jeffries’ attorney Radha Stirling said in a press release. “… Racism and sexism are prevalent throughout the United Arab Emirates.”
Without the ability to work or leave the country, Jeffries looked towards home for help, but said the U.S, Embassy has not been proactive in helping her.
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In a recent interview, Jeffries said Embassy officials “said they don’t want to be involved. … Do you think I want to be involved? Whose side are they on? I’m being told just pay the fine. I did nothing wrong and I’m supposed to pay $40,000?”
According to Jeffries, the forgery was committed by Mohammed Mansour Salem Jadoua, whom she hired to apply for a business trading license and investor visa for her.
Since doing so was restricted by the terms of her employment, she asked he wait until her resignation was finalized, but he forged signatures from her employer and filed the paperwork early anyway.
Jeffries said she is concerned about her 93-year-old mother and is doing all she can to stay sane through the ordeal.
“Honestly,” she said, “I’ve amazed myself. Somehow, I guess the human spirit will rise to the occasion. I’m here by myself. It has been extremely stressful and very frightening, but I’ve had to just be strong so that I can hopefully get through this.”
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