Princess Latifa is ‘safe at home’ say Dubai royals after secret ‘hostage’ videos sparked fears she was dead
PRINCESS Latifa is said to be "safe at home", according to Dubai royals.
It comes after after it was feared that she may have been killed after she revealed her ordeal about being held hostage.
The daughter of the ruler of Dubai expressed fears she might not survive in secret video messages to friends.
The Dubai royal family has now said Princess Latifa is "being cared for at home" after leaders around the world expressed their concern for her welfare.
The UN has even asked the United Arab Emirates for proof she is alive.
"In response to media reports regarding Sheikha Latifa, we want to thank those who have expressed concern for her wellbeing, despite the coverage which certainly is not reflective of the actual position," the family said in a response which came via the UAE embassy in London.
"Her family has confirmed that Her Highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals.
"She continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time."
No photos or video footage of the Princess was released with the statement to prove she is alive, however.
The United Nations launched an investigation into Princess Latifa, who says commandos were sent to capture and drug her as she fled the United Arab Emirates by boat and flew her back to detention.
Speaking on Sky News, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the footage was "very distressing" and said the UAE needed to provide proof she was alive.
"People just on a human level want to see that she is alive and well," he said.
"Of course, that is a natural extinct and we would certainly welcome that.
"You can only watch the footage and see that there is very distressing pictures of a very difficult case. I think it is concerning."
The Foreign Secretary said the UK would be raising the issue with the UAE.
"We always raise human rights issues with all of our partners, including the UAE.
"The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights will be following up on what we have seen, and we will be watching and monitoring that very closely indeed."
Later Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was concerned about the fate of Latifa adding that he would “keep an eye on the case”.
"That's something obviously that we are concerned about but the U.N. Commission on Human Rights is looking at that. I think what we'll do is wait and see how they get on."
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said earlier this week it would question the UAE about Princess Latifa.
A spokesman said the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention could launch an investigation once Princess Latifa's videos have been looked at.
Haunting video shared with the BBC shows Latifa crouched against the wall in a bathroom and using a mobile phone she records a shocking message.
"I'm a hostage, I'm not free. I am imprisoned in this jail. My life is not in my hands," the 35-year-old says.
Three years ago, with the help of her friend Tiina Jauhiainen, Latifa tried to flee Dubai for a new life abroad.
Days into her escape she was forcibly removed by armed men on a yacht off the coast of India, and taken back to Dubai where she says she's being held in a villa.
In the videos Latifa says: "This villa has been converted into jail. All the windows are barred shut, I can't open any window .
"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."
Her father and the Dubai Royal Court have claimed she is safe in the loving care of her family – but the BBC says the documentary provides evidence to the contrary.
Around a year after Latifa was captured, Tiina was contacted by someone who helped her secretly reconnect with her friend.
Tiina managed to get a phone to Latifa and since then she has recorded many video messages, describing her captivity in a villa converted into a jail with its windows barred shut.
BBC Panorama says it 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 yards from the beach but it is not known if she is still there.
Tiina told Panorama: "She is so pale, she hasn't seen sunlight for months. She can basically move just from her room to the kitchen and back."
Latifa is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the richest heads of state in the world.
She reportedly fled the country to seek political asylum abroad in late February of 2018.
According to Jean-Pierre Hervé Jaubert, a former French spy who helped in the escape attempt, the princess made a dramatic bid for freedom by travelling on jet skis from Oman to a waiting yacht called Nostromo.
They then set sail for Goa, in India but after a week at sea on the Indian Ocean, Mr Jaubert claims they were spotted and then monitored by reconnaissance planes.
Fifty miles off Goa they were boarded and she was take back to Dubai.
In 2019 she laid out the reasons why she wanted to flee in a YouTube video.
She alleged her family had imprisoned and tortured her and she now wanted to escape the clutches of her father.
Last year the High Court in London found her father "ordered and orchestrated" the abduction and forced return to Dubai of Princess Latifa twice, in 2002 and again in 2018.
At the end of last year, the UN ruled that he did imprison his princess daughter and must be brought to justice.
Ex-UN rights envoy Mary Robinson, who had described Latifa as a "troubled young woman" after meeting her in 2018, now says she was "horribly tricked" by the princess's family.
The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and president of Ireland has joined calls for international action to establish Latifa's condition and whereabouts.
"I continue to be very worried about Latifa. Things have moved on. And so I think it should be investigated," she said.
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