A U.S. citizen is facing a potential jail term of up to seven years if a Dubai court finds him guilty of stealing police handcuffs his lawyer said he insists he found in a parking lot and kept as a souvenir.
“He insists he found the handcuffs in the parking lot of Ibn Battuta Mall (in Dubai) and thought he would keep them as a souvenir,” said Yousef Hammad, his lawyer. A judge will hear the case on May 19.
“This is a person who has never stood before a court in the past,” Hammad said. “He had no bad intentions and I imagine the court will take this into account, I hope the punishment would be massively lessened.”
Dubai’s foreign population expanded rapidly in recent years as expatriates flocked to the Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub for its tax-free earnings and year-round sunshine. Many have fallen foul of the UAE’s strict rules governing conduct.
The changes have challenged the Emirati population, now vastly outnumbered by foreigners, raising concerns that the rapid pace of growth is a threat to their social and religious identity in what remains a deeply conservative region.
The U.S. embassy declined to comment on Foster’s case, citing privacy rules. A Dubai police spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Hammad said he would ask the court for an acquittal or to reduce the charges to taking possession of a found object.
Hammad said police accused Foster of stealing the handcuffs from a police officer when he was questioned at a police station earlier in a separate case, although he gave no further details.
The U.S. news network CNN quoted Foster on its website as saying he had previously been at the police station after being found in possession of a bottle of alcohol, but was released without charges.