A 25-year-old American woman has spent more than a month in jail in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly 'insulting' the state in public when two men approached her at the airport.
The woman, who has not been named, is on trial at the Federal Supreme Court and has been charged with insulting the country and its leaders through verbal assault.
On Monday she told the court she had been waiting for a taxi at the Abu Dhabi International Airport when two men approached her and spoke to her in a manner she did not like.
'The men tried to help me. I had another flight to catch at 1:29 a.m.,' she told the judge, according to The National, a government-owned newspaper in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
'I refused to engage with them and nothing happened.'
The woman told the judge she did not know why she was on trial.
It is unknown if evidence was presented against her.
She was arrested on February 23 and charged with the misdemeanor.
The woman asked the judge if she could pay a fine and be released from jail. A verdict was set for May 2.
The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi responded to an Associated Press query by stating that the embassy, 'is aware of the case and is providing consular services'.
While liberal on some issues, the UAE has strict laws governing expression.
Unlike in many Western countries, defamation is treated in the UAE as a criminal rather than a civil matter.
Insulting the UAE's leaders, or the country itself, can carry a prison sentence and steep fines.
In 2013, a 29-year-old US citizen from Minnesota was tried under a cyber-crimes law and accused of defaming the country's image abroad for posting a spoof video online about youth culture in the UAE.
He spent nine months in prison before being deported and fined $2,700.