Boris Johnson says he is concerned about missing Dubai princess

Figcaption Boris Johnson Says He Is Concerned About Missing Dubai Princess
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

Boris Johnson has said he is concerned about the case of a missing Emirati princess whose secret video messages from what she describes as a villa turned prison have led to calls for international intervention and proof she is still alive.

The UK prime minister said on Wednesday he was “concerned” over Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid’s situation but said it was being investigated by the UN commissioner for human rights. “I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on that,” Johnson said.

Earlier, the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said new videos of Latifa in which she said she was being held against her will by her father were “very troubling”.

Latifa, who has twice attempted to escape Dubai but has been forcibly returned, managed to record a series of secret messages using a smuggled phone from inside a villa she claimed had “been converted into a jail”. The new footage was broadcast by BBC Panorama on Tuesday night.

00:30 Princess Latifa: daughter of ruler of Dubai says she is a hostage in secret message – video

During her most recent escape attempt in January 2018, she used a rubber dinghy to reach a yacht anchored in international waters. Eight days later, off the coast of India, the ship was raided by Indian commandos and she was handed back to her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. India has never commented on its role in the affair.

“I have been here ever since, for more than a year in solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing,” Latifa said in one of the messages to friends, which she recorded in the bathroom, the only room she said she can lock. “Every day I am worried about my safety and the police threaten me that I will never see the sun again. I am not safe here.”

She said in another video: “The door to my room, I put, because I can’t lock the door to my room, there is no key, I put a bottle and some boxes underneath so if somebody opens the handle it will make a loud sound and it will be like an alarm so I stop talking. So yeah, this is my situation now.”

The messages abruptly stopped last year, prompting her friends to seek media attention. Asked on Sky News whether he would demand proof from Dubai that Latifa was still alive, Raab said: “Given what we’ve just seen, I think people would just at a human level want to see that she’s alive and well.”

He told the BBC that the UK and UN would be following up on the video, the details of which the Guardian could not independently confirm. The Dubai government’s media office has been contacted for comment.

A UK family court last year accepted her father had forcibly returned Latifa twice and has done the same with another daughter, Shamsa, when she fled the family’s Sussex estate in 2000. The court also found he had organised a campaign of intimidation against his youngest wife, Sheikha Haya, who has also escaped Dubai with their two children. Sheikh Mohammed said at the time the judgment told just one side of the story.

Asked whether Britain would impose sanctions on Dubai after the video, Raab said: “It’s not clear to me that there would be the evidence to support that.”

In a separate interview with the BBCon Wednesday, he said: “Any criminal matters are rightly for the police and they should investigate them without fear or favour.”

Before the videos, Latifa’s last public appearance was in a series of photographs released by the Dubai government in which the former Irish president Mary Robinson appeared to vouch for the princess’s wellbeing. Robinson told Panorama she had been tricked.

“I was misled, initially by my good friend Princess Haya, because she was misled,” Robinson said. “Haya began to explain that Latifa had quite a serious bipolar problem. And they were saying to me, in a way that was very convincing: ‘We don’t want Latifa to go through any further trauma.’”

She added: “I didn’t know how to address somebody who was bipolar about their trauma. And I didn’t really actually want to talk to her and increase the trauma over a nice lunch.”

Princess Latifa: secret videos raise fears for ruler's daughter forcibly returned to Dubai Read more

Tiina Jauhiainen, a close friend of Latifa, told Panorama that the princess was struggling. “She is so pale, she hasn’t seen sunlight for months. She can basically move just from her room to the kitchen and back,” Jauhiainen said.

The new footage heaps pressure on the UK to act against an important member of a government it considers a close military and trading partner. Sheikh Mohammed has significant racing interests in Britain and is often pictured with the Queen.

The British Horseracing Authority, which runs the industry in the UK, declined to comment on the latest news about Sheikh Mohammed.

Additional reporting by Chris Cook

Ultimele News