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Photo: Woman held in UAE for swearing in Email

A woman faces jail in United Arab Emirates after she sent a strongly-worded email to a man who was said to be harassing her with sexual images, a campaign group has said.

Melissa McBurnie, 57, was arrested in Abu Dhabi having been accused of slander, a US embassy spokesperson confirmed.

The Californian woman from Brentwood, who was a former personal assistant to actor Rob Lowe, messaged the man, 58, to tell him to stop sending her p.o.r.n.o.graphic images of himself as well as explicit texts to her, the campaign group Detained in Dubai.

Ms McBurnie is said to have “lashed out” in her message to the Egyptian national, who has previously shared images of her with others, the group claimed.

The woman was detained by the authorities after the man reported her email, Detained in Dubai has said.


Detained in Dubai chief executive Radha Stirling said: “Melissa has been going through one of the worst nightmares a person can suffer in the age of the internet for the past four years; she has been inundated with abusive messages of an extremely sexual nature.

“Yet, somehow she is the one facing prosecution in the UAE for cybercrime violations, simply because she used strong language against her abuser.”

According to Detained in Dubai, Ms McBurnie and the married man had been romantically involved but their relationship turned sour when Ms McBurnie put an end to the affair.

Ms McBurnie faces up to two years in prison for cybercrime if convicted.

She told the Daily Mail: “What I have been through has left me absolutely shaken. I have felt under constant threat the past years causing me unspeakable stress, and now I am facing criminal charges.

“I just hope the authorities can see what has been happening. I am the innocent part in all of this and they need to provide protection.”


The US embassy in the UAE told The Independent Ms McBurnie had been arrested for slander and later released on bail.

Ms McBurnie claims the man has slandered her and is using a series of explicit messages against her, the embassy spokesperson said.

The woman had been in the country since November on a tourist visa while the Egyptian man had been in the UAE for more than 20 years.

Detained in Dubai said they expected the woman to be held in Dubai until her case is heard in May.

In recent years a number of Brits have found themselves on the wrong side of the law in the UAE for what Westerners would see as innocuous reasons.

Tourist Jamie Harron hit headlines after he was arrested for touching a man’s hip in a Dubai bar.

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