A 25-year old American woman appeared in court Monday on misdemeanor charges for allegedly insulting the United Arab Emirates in public while waiting for a taxi at the Abu Dhabi International Airport....
The National, a government-owned newspaper in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, reported that the woman, who was not named, has been under arrest since Feb. 23.
The newspaper says she told the Federal Supreme Court that she was waiting for a taxi at the airport when two men approached and spoke to her in a manner she did not like.
It quoted her as saying that she "refused to engage with them and nothing happened."
The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi says it is aware of the case and is providing consular services.
While liberal on some issues, the UAE has strict laws governing expression. Unlike in many Western countries, defamation is treated in the UAE as a criminal rather than a civil matter.
Insulting the UAE's leaders, or the country itself, can carry a prison sentence and steep fines.