Tierra Allen‘s journey back home from Dubai has become more challenging. Since April, the 29-year-old Texan has been prohibited from leaving the UAE after being accused by a car-rental company employee of violating public-decency law by raising her voice during an argument.
Due to widespread international media attention, Dubai police amended the complaint, now alleging that Allen “slandered and defamed” staff at the car-rental company, according to human-rights advocate Radha Stirling, who is assisting Allen with her case.
“Tierra was arrested and has been prevented from coming home since April on the basis of raising her voice in public. That charge did not change until her case became known to the media, at which point, Dubai authorities were confronted with the absurdity of the charge,” Stirling, who runs a legal organization called Detained in Dubai, said.
Initially, Allen was detained for allegedly raising her voice in public, but the authorities changed the charge after media exposure. Stirling explained that instead of dropping the case and facilitating Allen’s return to the US, the authorities came up with a new justification for her detention.
The incident started after Allen, riding as a passenger in a rental car with a friend, was involved in a minor accident in Dubai. The rental car was taken back to the office, along with Allen’s personal belongings, including her wallet, phone, and passport, which were still inside.
The rental company demanded thousands of dollars to return Allen’s items, leading to a verbal argument and the subsequent report to authorities.
The charges against Allen could result in a two-year prison sentence, with the plaintiff requesting $10,000 in damages.
Stirling highlighted the common practice in the UAE of locals and permanent residents registering criminal cases against Westerners with the intention of dropping the charges in exchange for money.
Despite facing imprisonment and being trapped without income or support, Allen has stood her ground for three months.
Allen’s mother, Tina Baxter, revealed that her daughter expected to retrieve her belongings from the rental-car agency soon and would be meeting with the police department to try and resolve the case.
“Tierra is expected to have her personal items released today. She will also be having a meeting at the police department either today or later this week to try to reconcile with the rental car employee in hopes of getting the criminal case dropped,” Baxter told Insider.