Norwegian Marte Deborah Dalelv, a rape victim who was arrested for having sex outside of marriage when she went to report the sexual assault in Dubai, said Sunday she is acquitted of her 16-month prison sentence and is free to leave the country and go back to her native Norway.
“I am very, very happy,” Marte Deborah Dalelv told The Associated Press. “I am overjoyed.”
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Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, received the sentence last week, and the West stirred with widespread outrage, as there is a frequent clash between Dubai’s Western-friendly image and its Islamic-based legal codes.
Marte Deborah Dalelv, a rape victim, told police in March a co-worker took advantage of her, but she was instead charged with having sex outside marriage.
The rape victim’s decision to go public about the prison sentence last week in a series of interviews is an attempt to put pressure on authorities in Dubai and tarnish the city’s reputation as a cosmopolitan hub.
The AP does not identify the names of alleged sexual assault victims, but Dalelv went public voluntarily to talk to media.
“I have my passport back. I am pardoned,” said Marte Deborah Dalelv, who worked for an interior design firm in Qatar and was in Dubai for a business meeting when the alleged rape took place.
There was no immediate work from Dubai officials.
In Norway, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide posted a Twitter message: “Marte is released! Thanks to everyone who signed up to help.”
Eide told the Norwegian news agency NTB that international media attention and Norway’s diplomatic measures helped Marte Deborah Dalelv, who was free on appeal with her next court hearing scheduled for early September.
“The United Arab Emirates and Dubai is a rapidly changing society. This decision won’t only affect Marte Dalelv, who can travel home now if she wishes to, but also serve as a wake-up call regarding the legal situation in many other countries,” Eide was quoted as saying.
Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter: “Happy that Marte has been pardoned and that she is a free woman again.”
Marte Deborah Dalelv, who had been staying at a Norwegian-linked aid center in Dubai after she was charged, said she planned to leave the UAE soon, but “first I have to thank some very special people,” including local groups that supported her.
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