New York student Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, 21, faces jail in Dubai after being left half-naked during an airport search and tapping a security guard’s arm for money ‘help.
- Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos was asked to remove a medical belt during a security search.
- She was charged with “assault” after tapping a staff member’s arm for help.
- The student has been detained in the UAE since July 14 and faces prison despite having already paid a fine of AED 10,000 ($2,722).
A New York student detained in Dubai for two months faces prison after tapping the arm of an airport security agent during a search.
Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos was accused of “assaulting and insulting” airport staff on July 14.
The 21-year-old was traveling from Istanbul to New York – stopping off in Dubai for the connecting flight.
She had planned a short vacation after undergoing surgery and wore a slimming corset as part of her recovery.
But during the 10-hour layover, security told the Lehman College student she would have to remove the medical device.
Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, 21, was traveling from Istanbul to New York via Dubai when airport staff asked her to remove her medical belt for a security search.
De Los Santos claims the women gave him “mean looks” and laughed in Arabic at his swollen wounds.
She needed help getting her compressor back on and called a security lady for help.
But the student was later arrested for allegedly “touching the customs officer” during the search.
“We thought it would be a more modern, futuristic city, but we were completely wrong,” she said.
“I felt uncomfortable and scared. I felt really violated.
“There are a lot of pins and you have to stretch the edges and attach small, thin pins together close to the body.
“I felt really embarrassed and I took advantage of it.”
De Los Santos was kept in a room for several hours while the police officer filed a complaint against her.
De Los Santos said she was left half-naked and “humiliated” by the search and asked a security guard for help.
She then signed a form in Arabic and was allowed to leave the airport but hours later she was slapped with a travel ban.
De Los Santos, who also works as a retail manager, was ordered to pay a fine of AED10,000 ($2,722).
Despite paying a hefty sum – which usually serves as punishment – customs officials appealed his conviction.
Dubai courts automatically allow appeals, whether meritorious or not. They set the next hearing for October 23.
De Los Santos has been informed that whatever the outcome, the prosecution can appeal again and force her to stay in Dubai until the case is resolved.
Elizabeth’s mother pleaded with authorities to let her daughter return home so she could resume necessary medical care.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International, said: “She is under incredible stress which is affecting her physical and mental health, disrupting her entire life and leaving her with long-term scars.
TikTok star Tierra Allen (above) was also arrested in Dubai after allegedly shouting at a parking attendant.
Dubai airport staff accused De Los Santos of assaulting a security guard whom she touched in the arm and she has since been detained in the United Arab Emirates.
“This is simply no way to treat visitors. It’s scandalous.
“Either they want her to be imprisoned or they want to put pressure on her to pay them compensation.
“Tourists have long been exploited by locals who seek to punish and extort them as a form of secondary income.
“Compensating plaintiffs only exacerbates the situation.
“The Dubai government should end this type of corruption by prohibiting government employees from accepting out-of-court settlements for criminal complaints.
“It’s too incentivized for those in positions of power, leading to incidents like this that damage the UAE’s reputation as a safe transport and tourism hub.”
The US Consulate in Dubai confirmed it was aware of De Los Santos’ situation.
De Los Santos’ legal battle comes after TikTok influencer Tierra Young Allen was detained in the same country for three months earlier this year for “yelling” at a parking lot worker.