U.S. Student Sentenced For Touching Security Guard Freed From Dubai

Photo: Detained In Dubai

A 21-year-old New York college student has been freed from Dubai after she was sentenced to a year in prison for "gently" touching an airport security guard.

On Tuesday (October 3), advocacy group Detained in Dubai announced that Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, a Lehman College student, was "returning to the U.S. after five months of anguish," per the New York Post.

Elizabeth's return comes just days after she was sentenced to one year in prison for touching a female airport employee.

In July, Elizabeth and her friend were at the Dubai International Airport for a layover while flying from Istanbul to New York. The 21-year-old said female security officers requested she take off her doctor-mandated waist-training brace at the airport. When it was time to leave, officers refused to help her put the brace back on and blocked her from exiting, Detained in Dubai said.

That's when Elizabeth "gently touched" a security guard's arm so they could get her friend to help. After the incident, officials told her she was being detained "for touching the female customs officer," according to Detained In Dubai.

Elizabeth said she spent months moving between different hotels while waiting for the court to hear her case.

She was ultimately sentenced to one year in prison for "assaulting and insulting" Dubai airport staff. However, on Tuesday, Elizabeth's sentence was commuted.

“Elizabeth boarded her flight home to New York late Tuesday night,” Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling said in a statement. “The news that her sentence would be commuted was a welcome end to Elizabeth’s hellish 5 months in Dubai that left her humiliated, traumatized, and out of pocket $50,000.”

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