Expatriate charged in Dubai over Facebook charity post

SHAFAQNA – A 42-year-old British-Australian dual national was charged by Emirati police in Dubai after being arrested for sharing an “illegal” post helping Afghan refugees on his Facebook page.

Scott Richards was charged and detained for 22 days after he shared a crowdfunding site raising funds for children at the Chahari Qambar refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul.

Emirati authorities accused Richards of promoting an “illegal” charity after new laws were introduced banning the promotion of any charity not given prior approval from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable activities department in Dubai.

Richards, who works as an economic development adviser in Dubai, grew up in the Australian city of Adelaide and has been living in Dubai with his wife and two sons.

He was arrested at his home on 28 July and has been held for 22 days at the al-Murraqabat Police station.

His mother told the BBC that her son was forced to pay for water and had only been able to change his clothes once every seven days while being detained.

“His wife is under extreme stress,” Mrs Haberfield told the BBC.

His wife is only allowed to seem him once a week and takes money to him so that he can buy water and extra food.

“She’s worried for him, she’s worried for herself because if she runs out of money, will she have to leave the country? She’s frightened for her children.”

After being arrested, the police confirmed that Richards had used social media to encourage his followers to donate to the crowdfunding campaign run by a US charity.

Since his arrest, the crowdfunding campaign – which aims to raise $35,000 for winter supplies for children in an Afghan refugee camp – has received thousands of dollars in donations.

The laws introduced last year also prohibit donations or advertising fundraising campaigns without prior approval from the department, with penalties for violating the law including prison terms and a fine of up to 100,000 Dirhams ($27,000).

The UK Foreign Office confirmed to the BBC that it was in contact with Mr Richards and said it was “providing support”.

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