A London-based lesbian couple who went missing after being ‘tricked’ into flying to Dubai have been found.
Argentinian Maria Jimena Rico Montero and her Egyptian girlfriend Shaza Ismail were found in an Istanbul detention center yesterday afternoon (27 April).
Rafael Mendívil Peydro, the Spanish Ambassador to Ankara confirmed the couple were arrested in the Turkish city of Samsun for lack of documentation.
‘It’s been confusing. They disappeared for three days,’ he said.
‘But now they are safe and in Istanbul in a detention center for people who are going to be deported. They had to contact us because they do not have a passport.’
They Spanish Embassy in Turkey confirmed the couple will be deported back to London, where they both live.
The two women went missing after Ismail’s father allegedly tricked them into flying to Dubai by telling them Ismail’s mother was on her deathbed.
When the couple arrived, they found out she wasn’t gravely ill; instead, their arrival had been reported to the authorities.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in the United Arab Emirates.
The couple then fled to Georgia to make their way back home to London.
But at the airport, they were met by Ismail’s father, who was accompanied by security guards and a lawyer.
According to Montero’s mother, the father ripped up his daughter’s visa and stole both women’s passports so they couldn’t board their flight home.
Montero’s mother said her daughter told her the couple were held in the airport for 10 hours before being allowed to continue their journey.
A friend booked them a hotel, but on Monday, Montero’s mother reported the couple as missing.
They made it to the Turkish border, from where they took a bus to the Turkish city of Samsun.
From there Montero and Ismail boarded a coach which would take them to Istanbul.
Montero’s mother said her daughter left a ‘desperate’ WhatsApp message before the couple vanished, in which she said Ismail’s family had followed them to Georgia.
‘She told me: “If I don’t call at midday, it’s because something happened to me”,’ Montero’s mother said.
‘She never called.’