Former UN human rights envoy Mary Robinson said she felt “horribly tricked” over an alleged royal hostage ordeal in the Middle East.
The daughter of the ruler of Dubai accused her father of holding her against her will following attempts to flee the emirate, in video messages to friends.
Former Irish president Ms Robinson was criticised by human rights groups after she travelled to Dubai in 2018 to meet Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Sheikh Al-Maktoum.
Following the meeting, Dr Robinson described the princess as a “troubled young woman”.
Nine days after the lunch, the UAE’s foreign ministry published photographs of Ms Robinson with Latifa, which it said was proof the princess was safe and well.
The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, kidnapped and locked up his daughter Latifa because she wanted to lead an independent life. She smuggled out videos from her "villa jail," but they now have stopped, raising fears for her safety. https://t.co/FF9I3iPQ4y pic.twitter.com/TCfGbtLlDw
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 16, 2021
Dr Robinson told BBC Panorama: “I was particularly tricked when the photograph went public, horribly tricked.”
Latifa tried to flee the country in 2018 later sent secret video messages to friends accusing her father of holding her “hostage” as she feared for her life, BBC Panorama said.
Friends and supporters said she disappeared after commandos stormed a boat carrying her off the coast of India after she fled the emirate.
Dr Robinson flew to Dubai in December 2018 at the request of a friend for a lunch at which Latifa was present.
The stateswoman told Panorama she had earlier been presented with details of Latifa’s bipolar disorder, a condition she does not have.
Dr Robinson told the programme she she did not ask Latifa about her situation because she did not want to “increase the trauma” of her “condition”.
She said she was aware a photo was being taken of the encounter, as proof that Latifa was alive, but was not aware it would be published.
She added: “I mean, that was a total surprise, I was absolutely stunned.”
Dr Robinson was the first female president of Ireland and is a former UN high commissioner for human rights.
She has advocated for gender equality and women’s participation in peace-building.