An American fitness guru is trapped in Dubai, facing a prison sentence after defying the UAE’s harsh cybercrime laws.
Jordan Branford, 44, of Eugene, Oregon, is facing a $68,000 fine or up to seven years in a Dubai prison for using the word ‘b*tch’ on Instagram.
A complaint was filed against Branford last year by his estranged Egyptian wife, Salma Ismail, who reported him for using the curse word in an Instagram post.
Although Branford did not direct the term at anyone specific in the now-deleted post, it’s still thought to be highly offensive in the socially conservative nation of United Arab Emirates.
The founder of The Body Challenge, who’s been in the fitness industry for 25 years, was arrested in Dubai, where he’s lived since 2008.
Branford now faces deportation and the Dubai authorities will sieze Branford’s passport until he either pays the fine, or turns himself in to police to serve his sentence.
Branford has a 17-year-old son, Jadan, back home in Oregon from a previous marriage who he may be unable to see if he doesn’t comply with the criminal proceedings.
Branford and Ismail’s marriage started to break down in early 2017, when Branford claimed Ismail was ‘behaving in ways that no spouse would accept’.
Branford told the Daily Mail:
I was working a lot of hours trying to build up my fitness business, American Fitness. My own father was not around when I was young and my mother and I were left to fend for ourselves.
I really wanted to make a comfortable future for my beautiful son, Jadan. My friends and people I knew were coming to me everyday with reports of my wife behaving in ways that no spouse would accept.
Ismail tried unsuccessfully several times to sue Branford for hundreds of thousands of dollars and amid the tensions, Branford posted a short clip of himself to Instagram Stories complaining about the legal fees.
So I woke up today and heard the b*tch made another case.
Branford claims he’s now spent more than $230,000 in legal fees.
He also alleges he was treated in an ‘aggressively and hostile manner’ when he was arrested and brought in front of the Dubai Court of First Instance on March 14, 2017.
This has been hanging over me for 20 months. I have spent all my money and lost my business trying to fight it. The future I was preparing for my boy is gone.
I was heartbroken. I know that when marriages end, it is often bitter, but she really tried to ruin me and it seems that now she has succeeded.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, released a statement regarding Branford’s case:
Most people are unaware that they are likely already in breach of the Cybercrime laws when they arrive in the country.
Under these poorly drafted and arbitrarily enforced laws, visitors can even be subject to prosecution for posts they have shared from outside of the UAE, years before visiting.
Laws are open to manipulation and abuse by disgruntled partners, friends or colleagues. In the event of a falling out, a criminal complaint can be easily made to authorities.
It’s very rare for me to go full on with makeup and when I have someone do it for me I can be very fussy..I finally found someone who actually doest get offended when I tell them how I want it exactly and they do it with perfection… Nena from @blowoutandgo absolutely loved my makeup yesterday for #diff2016 red carpet. They came and did hair and make up in 1 hour! Very efficient! Thanks again #simple #makeup #style #DubaiInternationalFilmFestival2016
Stirling added: “Even if the complaint is trivial, it can lead to arrest, lengthy detention, fines, years in prison and deportation”.
She concluded Jordan’s case is an example of where the legislation ‘lacks forethought and consideration as to how randomly it will be applied and abused at the whim of a disgruntled party’.