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Australian jailed in Abu Dhabi over Facebook post

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Abu Dhabi - An Australian woman has been jailed in the UAE's capital for cyber crime, officials confirmed.

Jodi Magi, who moved to Abu Dhabi from Perth, posted a picture of a car, which was parked across two disabled parking spaces without a disability sticker, near her residential area.

According to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC News) on Tuesday, the 39-year-old expat had blanked out the registration plate of the vehicle and did not provide names or identity of the owner of the car when she posted the picture on her Facebook page in February.

However, a complaint was lodged to the Abu Dhabi Police and action was taken. The graphic designer and illustrator was found guilty at a trial last month for "writing bad words on social media," stated ABC News.

Magi received a fine and was also informed that she will be deported to Australia. However, she told ABC News that she attempted to pay the Dh10,000 fine and exit the country on her own will, but was told by authorities that she must present herself to court. Magi appeared in court on Sunday to pay the fine, but was taken into custody.

Magi's deportation is still pending, however, she also told ABC News that the Australian embassy in Abu Dhabi did not provide essential advice on her situation and suggested to seek the help of a lawyer.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated that consular support was given to Magi and representatives have been in touch with her, husband and lawyer since May 25 when she was sentenced for cyber crimes offence.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop informed the media on Tuesday that she believes Magi will be deported in "a very short time," and that consular officials were assisting her.

Bishop, however, did not wish to provide any further details, as she said it would not be appropriate while Magi was still in detention.

"Consular officials have provided all appropriate consular assistance to Ms Magi, in line with the Consular Services Charter, and have kept in close touch with Ms Magi, her husband and her lawyer. On Sunday, Ms Magi presented herself to a court in Abu Dhabi to pay a court-ordered fine and was taken into custody pending deportation to Australia. This is normal practice in Abu Dhabi," said DFAT.

"Australians travelling overseas are subject to the laws of the country they are in, and consular officials can't prevent the detention of Australians or retrieve their passport if it is held by local authorities," the statement added.

"The Australian government's travel advice for the UAE warns that local laws that appear harsh by Australian standards nevertheless apply to Australian travellers or residents," stressed the DFAT. The case has now been taken to court and the photo, which landed Magi in trouble, has been removed from her personal Facebook account.

Khaleej Times tried contacting the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi for comments, however, officials stated that any questions regarding Magi's story should be taken to DFAT located in Canberra. The DFAT were also contacted for comments but no response has yet been made.


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