PRINCESS Latifa of Dubai – whose disappearance has provoked international uproar and a UN enquiry – is being prompted to take her own life, her close friend has claimed.
The princess, who was returned to the UAE in 2018 following a failed escape plan, has found "bags of razor blades" under her bed as guards "relentlessly torture" her in a bid to "get her to breaking point".
Obtaining a smuggled phone after she was imprisoned on her return to Dubai, Latifa contacted her close friend of over eight years, David Haigh, about her horrific ordeal in a series of WhatsApp messages.
The lawyer, human rights advocate and co-founder of the #FreeLatifa campaign exclusively tells The Sun Online of the “constant psychological torture” Latifa endured.
“She told me that guards left a whole bag of razor blades under her bed – hinting at the easy option,” David reveals. “Latifa was causing a problem for them and they were desperate to break her."
“I was worried they had planted the razor blades so that they could make it look like suicide should anything happen to her at the hands of the guards."
David, who was imprisoned in Dubai in 2014 and claims he was tortured for almost two years, details how there was "something new" every day in Latifa's "mental torture".
"The blades were just one small part," he continues. "Twice they left stopwatches around the apartment, counting how much time was passing with her locked away.
“It was a regular occurrence that they would offer to get her things and then throw them away when they felt like it, or just never bring it at all.
“The guards were desperate to mess with her brain, trying to get her to break. For three years, it’s been relentless for her.”
'They would offer to buy her coffee, then pour it away in front of her'
David reveals for the first time how guards “frequently asked her to go outside” with them in a desperate attempt to photograph Latifa “doing normal things" as propaganda.
David believes they wanted to "stage a similar photo" to the one taken in December 2018, where Latifa was taken for lunch with U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.
The former Irish president recently opened up about how she was "horribly tricked" into believing Latifa was suffering from bipolar disorder and was traumatised by her escape ordeal.
"Latifa would say she wanted to be covered with a hijab, and suddenly they would change their minds and wouldn't let her out," David continues.
“They would say to her, ‘We’re going to Starbucks, do you want anything?’, but would return only to pour the coffee away in front of her face.
“She was constantly denied requests for things she needed. Even when we thought she had contracted Covid they wouldn’t send a doctor.
“False promises to release her were constant – they would tease that if she just complied with what they wanted her to do, they'd let her go."
'She would have to sit through hours of brainwashing lectures'
In order to further break her spirits, David says Latifa was forced into a "brainwashing" routine, that included only allowing her to watch "one local news channel" on a TV the guards controlled.
“She would be sat down for two hours at a time for talks,” David explains. “Lecturing would be too weak of a word to describe it; it was more like brainwashing.”
During the intense sessions, David reports she would be fed “vicious lies” about her close friends and family – including her step mother Princess Haya, who fled from Dubai to London in 2019 with her two children.
He claims that when Latifa “refused to say what guards wanted to hear”, she was “hit a few times” and threatened she would “never see the light of day again”.
'The police are desperate to please Daddy'
David suggests her father, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is orchestrating the daily torture routine behind palace walls.
The Sheikh owns sprawling royal residences including a £75million Surrey estate, and the world's largest horse breeding operation with farms in the UK. He is thought to be worth an estimated £2.9billion.
“On one occasion, Latifa was taken from the villa to see her father in person,” David reveals. “He told her: 'I asked the guards to bring you to me whether you wanted to come or not’.
"He doesn’t care about her at all. Whenever she wouldn't comply, he just sent men to threaten her and these police, they all want to please Daddy.
"No policeman would attack a princess unless they were told to – so someone was giving those orders.”
'I'm a hostage – I'm not safe at all'
Latifa was feared dead until she was seen for the first time in videos released to the BBC's Panorama by David and director of the #FreeLatifa campaign Tiina Jauhiainen this month.
In Spring 2019, Latifa made contact with David and Tiina through a trusted intermediary – and they exchanged letters for many weeks before "smuggling a phone" for the princess to record her harrowing testimony.
In the secretly-filmed clips, Latifa explained she had been locked away in prison before being moved into a "jail villa" where she has been kept in solitary confinement for three years.
The building is said to be covered security cameras and constant police surveillance, overlooking the Burj Al Arab – a reminder of Dubai’s glamorous front – and Jumeriah beach, a tourist hotspot.
Citing years of abuse at the hands of her father, the princess has told in her own words how she travelled by car, jet-ski and yacht towards India where she planned to claim political asylum.
She recounted a horror story of her forced return to Dubai after being "kidnapped at gun point" by Emirati police.
“I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail. All the windows have been barred shut. I can’t open any window,” Latifa tells the camera.
“More than a year now I’ve been by myself in solitary confinement. They want me to break. I’m being punished… I’m not safe at all.
“I don’t know if I’m going to survive this situation. The police have said they will take me outside and shoot me if I don’t co-operate.”
'I'm scared she is being medicated to keep her quiet'
Six months ago, contact was lost with the princess when Latifa stopped reading and responding to messages left by the #FreeLatifa team.
Tiina exclusively tells The Sun Online: "We are somewhat certain she must have been caught with the phone, and I am scared about what they will have done to her as punishment.”
Her greatest worry is that if Latifa is alive, she is “being medicated to keep her silent” – something Latifa previously accused her father of doing to her older sister Shamsa.
While living at the family estate in Surrey, Princess Shamsa made an escape for a number of weeks in 2000 before being dragged “kicking and screaming” back to Dubai, where she has never been publicly seen since.
Written by hand in 2019, recently published letters revealed how Latifa urged the British forces to look further into her sisters' case.
'We'll make it bloody awkward for Sheikh Mohammed until he releases her'
Now desperate for proof of life, David has been disappointed by the UAE’s recent statement that detailed the princess as “being cared for at home".
While the UN investigate the claims, the #FreeLatifa campaign maintain they will continue to release more video clips to “put pressure” on Dubai until they are “set Latifa free”.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
“We just want Latifa’s situation to be known, and we will continue to go after Sheikh Mohammed’s reputation until she is freed,” David adds.
“Essentially, we will keep making it so bloody awkward for Sheikh Mohammed to go anywhere that he has no choice to give Latifa up.
"All we want is for her to be released, so we will keep the pressure on.”
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