New York college student sentenced to one year in Dubai prison after touching airport security guard’s arm

The United Arab Emirates has reportedly sentenced a New York City college student to a year in prison for allegedly “assaulting and insulting” an airport security guard during a connecting flight in Dubai over the summer.

Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, 21, a student at Lehman College in the Bronx, received her sentence Monday after spending nearly three months effectively trapped in Dubai with a travel ban against her, according to the advocacy group Detained in Dubai. .

“Elizabeth only intended to transit through Dubai for six hours, but she has been there for months and has lost $50,000 in expenses and legal fees,” said Detained in Dubai founder Radha Stirling.

“In addition to being humiliated and traumatized by airport staff, Elizabeth has endured months of being forced to stay in an expensive country, pay expensive lawyers, and lose her university studies.”

Los Santos’ ordeal began on July 14, when she and a friend were returning home to New York after a vacation in Istanbul.

Their initial itinerary had them connecting home through Paris, but they changed the flight to stopover in Dubai so they could see the famous city during a ten-hour layover.

“We thought it would be a more modern and futuristic city, but we were completely wrong,” Los Santos said, according to Detained in Dubai.

Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, 21, is reportedly a student at Lehman College in the Bronx, but remains in Dubai. Los Santos and her friend were returning home from a vacation in Istanbul when she was detained.

While going through security, Dubai airport staff requested that Los Santos remove a waist compressor that he was supposed to use after recent surgery.

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Led to a private booth, staff members removed the compressor, but the Los Santos mother told Detained in Dubai that they were rough and hurt her daughter’s still-healing surgery scars. They laughed at her too, and when she asked for help putting her complicated garment back on they refused.

“I felt uncomfortable and scared. “I felt really violated,” Los Santos said.

The compressor had “a lot of pins and you need to stretch the edges and attach small thin pins close to the body,” he said, and as staff continued to ignore his pleas for help, Los Santos leaned past a security guard blocking his path. and Yelled for her friend to come help her.

“I gently touched her arm to guide her out of the way and then I started desperately crying to my friend for help,” she told Detained in Dubai.

Los Santos had to pay for hotels in Dubai while charges against him were pending in local courts.

Los Santos was then detained in a room for hours while the security guard she knocked filed a complaint against her and was not allowed to leave until she signed a form written in Arabic.

When she later returned to the airport to catch her flight to New York, she was informed of the travel ban filed against her and forced to remain in the country until the charges against her were heard in court.

After staying in hotels for weeks, a judge allowed her to pay AED 10,000 (about $2,700) and go on her way, but Dubai prosecutors appealed the ruling and she was finally sentenced to a year in prison on Monday.

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“She is under the most incredible stress which is affecting her physical and mental health, disrupting her entire life and leaving her with long-term scars,” Stirling said. “This is simply no way to treat visitors. It is outrageous”.

Los Santos said she was humiliated by airport staff and was asking for help when she “gently” touched a security guard.AP

The US State Department did not immediately respond to The Post’s requests for comment, but told Newsweek in a statement on Sunday that they are “aware of the detention of a US citizen in Dubai.”

Lehman College did not respond to requests for comment about Los Santos’ student status.

Los Santos is not the only American who recently found himself trapped in Dubai under scandalous circumstances.

In August, Tierra Young Allen, 29, returned to her home in Houston after spending months trapped in the countryside for yelling at a rental car employee.

He was eventually allowed to return home after shelling out about $1,300 to lift the travel ban against him.

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