Yesterday, I mentioned the tragic story of Marte Deborah Dalelv, the Norwegian interior designer who told Dubai police back in March she'd been raped while on a business trip--only to find herself facing charges of extramarital sex and alcohol consumption. For bad measure, police tacked on a charge of false reporting after she got Iago-like advice to claim the encounter was consensual in hopes of getting the charges dropped. She was convicted last week on all charges and faced 16 months in prison pending appeal.
Well, this story has a happy ending. Earlier this morning (Eastern time), in the face of a groundswell of international pressure, Dalelv was pardoned by the emir of Dubai.
Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Marte Deborah Dalelv seemed relieved and happy as she confirmed the news -- if still slightly bewildered by the swift turn of events.Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, who has been personally involved in this from the beginning, tweeted the happy news:
"They told me that I would be pardoned and that they were going to give me my passport back -- so I got it immediately," she said.
A friend has taken the passport to a government department to get the necessary exit permit, she said.
Asked what happens next, Dalelv paused a moment before replying: "I get to go home."
She added, "We want to make it as soon as possible."
A spokeswoman for Norway's Foreign Ministry, Ragnhild Imerslund, earlier told CNN that Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had said Dalelv was free to travel where she wants and can remain in Dubai if she chooses.
The sheikh, who is vice president of the United Arab Emirates, also said the 24-year-old had not been and would not be deported, Imerslund said.
Marte is released! Thanks to everyone who signed up to help #ReleaseMarte— Espen Barth Eide (@EspenBarthEide) July 22, 2013
This isn't over yet, though. In Dubai, unless the suspected rapist confesses, it takes the testimony of four male witnesses to secure a rape conviction. Calling this situation backwards would be extremely kind to it. Nonetheless, glad to see this potential travesty has a happy ending.