Princess Latifa: Dubai princess claims she is being held ‘hostage’ in secret


Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum — the daughter of UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum — was last seen publicly in March 2018 aboard a yacht off the coast of India before a raid by Indian and Emirati forces took her back to Dubai, according to two people who had helped plan her escape.

It was her second failed attempt to flee abroad after she previously tried to leave the UAE in 2002 as a teenager.

In a video clip, obtained by BBC Panorama and supplied to CNN ahead of ‘The Missing Princess‘ documentary airing Tuesday night, Princess Latifa says: “I’m a hostage. This villa has been converted into jail. All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window … I’ve been by myself, solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing.”

CNN has not independently verified the videos or Latifa’s current whereabouts. CNN has contacted the Dubai government for comment.

Princess Latifa secretly recorded the videos herself on a mobile phone whilst hiding in a locked bathroom, according to the BBC. The documentary says around a year after Latifa was taken back to Dubai, her friend Tiina Jauhiainen was contacted by someone who helped her secretly reconnect with her.

Jauhiainen managed to get a phone to Latifa and since then the princess has recorded many video messages “describing her captivity in a villa converted into a jail with its windows barred shut,” according to a BBC press release.

“BBC Panorama has independently verified the details of where Latifa was being held hostage. She was guarded by around 30 police, working on rotation, both inside and outside the villa. The location is just metres from the beach. It is not known if she is still there,” the press release says.

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In another video to be shown in the documentary Latifa says: “I have been here ever since, for more than a year in solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing … 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.”

Jauhiainen tells the documentary she is greatly concerned for her friend: “She is so pale, she hasn’t seen sunlight for months. She can basically move just from her room to the kitchen and back.”

After her failed escape in 2018, in December of that year Latifa was visited by the former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson. Latifa was seen in grainy photographs alongside Robinson, a former President of Ireland, who said later that Latifa was “troubled” and “regretted” her attempts to escape. Robinson’s account was criticized by human rights activists.

Robinson made the visit at the request of the ruling family, according to a communique the UAE mission in Geneva sent to the Office of Special Procedures at the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations. “The documents respond to and rebut false allegations that have been made about Her Highness, providing evidence that she is alive and living with her family in Dubai,” the statement said.

However, in the BBC Panorama episode, Robinson gives a different account of her controversial meeting with Latifa in 2018.

“I was misled,…



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