“In response to media reports on Sheikha Latifa, we would like to thank those who have expressed concern about their welfare, although the coverage certainly does not reflect the real position,” said her family’s statement in the United Arab Emirates Embassy (UAE ) in London.
In secret records obtained from the BBC and shared with CNN, the daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler claimed she was being held hostage in a “mansion that was turned into a prison” with no access to medical assistance.
The royal family’s statement does not go along with the demands of the United Nations and the UK for the UAE to provide the sheikh with proof of life.
In the statement, her family said: “Your Highness will be cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals.”
“It continues to improve and we hope it will return to public life at the right time,” she added.
Latifa’s family and close friends have started a campaign with supporters and advisers called Free Latifa. Some human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch support the campaign.
“Any truthful confirmation that Princess Latifa is safe and healthy is of course welcome. However, today’s declaration is reminiscent of those in 2018, 2019 and 2020,” said those in charge of the campaign in a statement on Friday.
“Statements that have proven one thing that the United Arab Emirates, its embassy in London and especially Latifa’s father, the Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, simply cannot be trusted.”
The declaration called on the United Nations and world leaders such as US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step in and call on the UAE to release Latifa.
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum – the daughter of the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – was last seen publicly aboard a yacht off the coast of India in March 2018 before a raid by Indian and Emirati armed forces brought her back to Dubai, according to two people who helped plan their escape.
It was her second failed attempt to flee abroad, having previously tried to leave the UAE as a teenager in 2002.
In one of the video clips Latifa says: “I am a hostage. This villa has been turned into a prison. All windows are locked, I cannot open any window … I was alone, lonely in prison. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing. “
According to the BBC, Latifa secretly recorded the videos herself on a cell phone while hiding in a locked bathroom. The documentary says that about a year after Latifa returned to Dubai, her friend Tiina Jauhiainen was contacted by someone who secretly helped the couple reconnect.
Jauhiainen managed to get a phone to Latifa and since then the princess has recorded many video messages “describing her imprisonment in a mansion that has been converted into a prison with the windows closed,” according to a BBC press release.
“BBC Panorama has independently verified where Latifa was being held hostage. She was guarded by around 30 police officers who were working on rotations both inside and outside the villa. The location is meters from the beach. It is not known whether it is still there, “said the press release.
In another video shown in the documentary, Latifa says, “I’ve been here in solitary confinement for more than a year since then. No access to medical help, no trial, no charges, nothing … I worry every day My safety and the police threaten that I will never see the sun again. I am not safe here. “
CNN’s Caroline Faraj in Dubai, Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi and Sarah Dean in London contributed to this report.