A 21-year-old American college student was sentenced to one year in a Dubai prison after being accused of “assaulting and insulting” airport staff during a layover, according to legal experts. Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos was denied boarding on July 15 while traveling through Dubai International Airport. 

She was subjected to unpleasant, humiliating, and offensive searches when traveling from Istanbul to New York via the international hub.

“Elizabeth’s experience transiting through Dubai International Airport has left our organization, Detained in Dubai, calling for increased travel warnings to U.S. citizens,” founder Radha Stirling said in a statement.

“Elizabeth only intended to transit through Dubai for six hours, but she’s been there for months on end and has lost $50,000 in expenses and lawyers costs,” she continued. “She’s now been told she has a one-year prison sentence but that if all ‘goes well, she will only be detained until she can book a flight out of the UAE.

Polanco De Los Santos was traveling to Turkey with a friend and had a 10-hour layover in the United Arab Emirates.

“We thought it would be a more modern and futuristic city, but we were completely wrong,” she said in a press release shared by Detained in Dubai, an organization that assists foreigners in the UAE.

Authorities told her to remove the doctor-mandated waist-training brace she wore while going through airport security. She hesitantly agreed and was led to a booth where women security officers took the trainer off in a “rough” manner, according to the press release.

“I felt really violated,” the student said, adding she was “uncomfortable and afraid.”

Polanco De Los Santos attempted to put the trainer back on, which usually requires two people and asked for help. The security officers blocked her exit, and the student nudged one of them while calling her friend for help.

“I gently touched her arm to guide her out of the way, then desperately started crying to my friend for help,” the 21-year-old said.

After the search came back clear, officials told her she would be detained for “touching the female customs officer.” She was kept for several hours as the officers filed a complaint, accusing Polanco De Los Santos of “assaulting and insulting” them.

Since the incident, she has been unable to return home to New York. Polanco De Los Santos’ apartment lease has expired, and classes at Lehman College, where she is enrolled, have resumed, according to the Economic Times.

An Aug. 24 court ruling required her to pay an AED10,000 fine ($4,500), but customs officials have appealed the decision. A new hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24, and, according to Detained in Dubai, Polanco De Los Santos may face jail time.

The 21-year-old reached out to the organization after it helped Tierra Young Allen, an American also detained in Dubai after being accused of yelling in public and violating the obscenity law. Allen was released and brought back to the United States after four months.