A college student from New York City who was recently sentenced to prison time in the United Arab Emirates for an altercation at a Dubai airport has been released, according to an advocacy group.
Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, a student at Lehman College in the Bronx, was sentenced to one year in prison for “assaulting and insulting” Dubai International Airport customs officials, according to Detained in Dubai, an advocacy group for foreign nationals detained and prosecuted in the United Arab Emirates.
Since then, her sentence has been commuted, and she boarded a flight to New York Tuesday night, the group reported.
“After five months of agony, the 21-year-old is ecstatic to be returning to the United States,” Detained in Dubai said in a statement.
According to Detained in Dubai, De Los Santos had been detained in Dubai since July. On July 14, she was returning to New York from a trip to Istanbul with a friend when she had a 10-hour layover in Dubai. A security officer asked the student, who had recently undergone surgery, to remove the medical waist trainer suit she wears around her waist, stomach, and upper chest, according to Detained in Dubai.
De Los Santos complied and repeatedly requested assistance from the female customs officers, but to no avail, according to Detained in Dubai. While calling out to her friend for help, she “gently touched” the arm of one of the female officers “to guide her out of the way” of the security curtain, De Los Santos told Detained in Dubai.
According to Detained in Dubai, De Los Santos was detained for touching a female customs officer. After signing paperwork in Arabic, he was allowed to leave the airport. The group reported that upon her return for her flight to the United States, she was informed that a travel ban had been issued against her.
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