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Steamy Text Messages Lands Couple In Dubai JAIL

03/17/10 03:25 PM ET   AP

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A string of steamy text messages has resulted in a jail sentence for an Indian couple, local media announced Wednesday, in the latest case of passions clashing with the law in the cosmopolitan, yet occasionally conservative, Gulf city of Dubai.

The conviction said the sexual content of the texts suggested the unnamed pair planned to "commit sin" – a reference to an extramarital affair, which is illegal in the United Arab Emirates.

The pair, who worked as cabin crew for Emirates airlines, each were sentenced to three months in jail, said authorities. Court documents only gave their initials and their ages: 42 for her and 47 for him.

The court ruling said there was not enough evidence to determine whether the couple had an affair, which would have likely brought a harsher sentence.

The text messages surfaced in a divorce lawsuit by the woman's estranged husband.

A court in December sentenced the Indian couple to six months in jail followed by deportation, but an appeals court reduced the jail time and gave them the option to remain in the country.

It's not the first time that emotions have run afoul with authorities in Dubai, where the expatriate population exceeds the locals by more than 4-to-1. The city-state allows one of the most relaxed lifestyles in the Arab world, but officials can come down hard on those accused of pushing the limits of tolerance.

Earlier this week, a British couple said they will appeal a one-month jail sentence for exchanging a fiery kiss in a restaurant.

In 2008, two Britons were sentenced to three months in jail for what authorities described as sex on the beach. The sentences were later suspended.

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Filed by Nicholas Sabloff  |