British Woman Asa Hutchinson Arrested in Dubai for Witnessing Hotel Lobby Fight

Asa Hutchinson
Asa Hutchinson, a 21 year old Dubai resident was charged with assault and theft Detained in Dubai

A British woman living in Dubai is reportedly facing a jail term after witnessing a fight between her visiting friends and a Swedish tech executive.

Asa Hutchinson, 21, from Chelmsford, Essex, was detained following an altercation thought to have taken place in a hotel lobby, where some of her male friends started taking selfies with a man who had fallen asleep on a couch.

When the man, described as a technology company executive in his 50s, woke up, he allegedly punched Hutchinson's friends.

Hutchinson claims she did not take part in the brawl, but police arrested her when they arrived at the scene.

"The man woke up and began punching the boys. I heard the commotion and came back to see what was going on," Hutchinson told London-based organization Detained in Dubai.

She explained that the boys ran away, but the man still called the police and made officials complaints that the boys had taken pictures of him and were rude. Both behaviors are punishable by law in Dubai, according to the organization.

The incident is thought to have occurred in 2016.

Hutchinson's friends managed to board a flight after getting their passports back by paying cash deposits. When the Swedish man found that Hutchinson lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he transferred the charges of assault and theft to her.

"I was not involved. I just happened to be there, but the police are not interested in anything I have to say. Once the man made his complaint it was taken as fact. I can't go to jail, I couldn't cope," the woman said.

In UAE, the person who makes the first complaint is the party the police believe, according to the organization.

The man, who lost his glasses while striking the boys, accused the woman of having stolen them.

Hutchinson's parents said they were worried about their daughter.

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said: "Visitors to the UAE need to be aware that justice does not operate the same way as it does in countries with mature legal systems.

"In Dubai, if two parties are in dispute or arguing, the first person to speak to the police is usually the one who is believed. Often it is a race to get to the police first. By making this complaint, the man may have been safeguarding himself from being charged himself.

"Also, it is clear in this case that Asa was a bystander, not involved with the fight and is only being victimized because the alleged culprits have left the country."

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office told Newsweek: "Our staff in Dubai assisted a British woman following an incident in 2016, and are ready to provide further help if requested."

Reports of Hutchinson's arrest emerged days after British man Jamie Harron was freed in Dubai after being sentenced to three months in prison for touching a man's hip. He has returned to the UK following his release.