In a final video the woman who claimed to be a Dubai princess said she was making a break for freedom.
Peering nervously at the camera, she explained that she was Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, and that her father was holding her against her will.
It would only be seen, she added, if her escape failed, and then she did not know what would happen to her. “I hope this video is never used,” she said.
It was. The video was released online shortly after she sent text messages to a support group saying that she was on board a yacht off the coast of India, and that it was being attacked by armed men. Then there was silence.
The mystery of the princess, who disappeared on March 4, took a step forward this week when two companions reappeared along with the yacht.
Hervé Jaubert, 62, a French former spy who owned the US-registered Nostromo, was able to get a message to his wife saying he was “on his way home”. Tracking data showed the Nostromo leaving a port in the UAE and heading back out into the Indian Ocean.
Tiina Johanna Jauhiainen, 41, a Finnish personal trainer and a friend of Sheikha Latifa, was put on an Emirates flight to London, from where she took a connecting flight to Finland, according to the support group Detained in Dubai.
Their apparent release will strengthen suspicions that all three were seized by or on behalf of the Dubai authorities.
In the video Sheikha Latifa, 32, says that she is one of 30 children of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is prime minister of the UAE as well as emir of Dubai. She says that she is one of three daughters by different marriages called Latifa. A photograph of her UAE residence card appears to support her claim.
In the video she goes on to say that her fight with her father began in 2001, when her older sister, Sheikha Shamsa, also tried to escape. Reports from the time claimed that Sheikha Shamsa fled from the family estate in Surrey, but was found and flown in a private jet back to Dubai.
Sheikha Latifa says she took her sister’s side and then, at the age of 16, tried to escape herself, was caught and jailed for three years, during which time she was tortured and drugged. She decided to leave again last year. Details of how she escaped have not been made public.
Yesterday the Finnish foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Ms Jauhiainen was safe and that it had stopped its missing persons inquiry. Neither the UAE embassy nor the government of Dubai responded to requests for comment.