An American TikTok influencer has been stuck in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for the last two months and U.S. officials are now working to help get her back home to Texas.
Known as "The Sassy Trucker" on social media, Tierra Young Allen shares her travels as a trucker with more than 180,000 followers on TikTok and 44,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Allen traveled to Dubai months ago, but what was supposed to be a fun trip turned into a nightmare. For the last two months, the 29-year-old says she has been without her U.S. passport and is unable to travel or leave the country after she was involved in an accident and an altercation with a rental car agency employee.
Allen says the agency impounded the car she was renting -- and her passport and credit cards.
Radha Stirling, the founder of Detained in Dubai, an organization based in the U.K. that supports tourists stuck in the UAE, says she has been working with and is in touch with Allen. Stirling told "Good Morning America" Allen was involved in an argument over fees charged by the rental car agency and that in the UAE, there are laws against shouting, name-calling and profanity. Under Emirati law, publicly insulting another person is also punishable by up to one year in prison and a hefty fine.
"So, she went to the agency the next day to try to retrieve [her passport and credit cards, which were still inside the vehicle]. The agency [representative] refused to give it to her and, in fact, got into an argument with her, raised his voice at her," Stirling said. "He followed her out of the shop. She shouted back at him, you know, 'Stop! Leave me alone!' And then he decided to take a police complaint against her for shouting."
According to Stirling, other travelers have found themselves in similar situations, and in some cases "people have actually paid the fees to the rental car agency just to get their passport back, even if they didn't owe them anything."
She added that Allen was in "a desperate situation, really, she didn't have the money that they were demanding."
Police in Dubai told The Associated Press in a statement that they "received a complaint from a car rental office, accusing [Allen] of slandering and defaming an employee amidst a dispute over car rental fees" and that following questioning, Allen was "subsequently released pending the resolution of ongoing legal proceedings between her and the car rental office."
According to Stirling, police are holding Allen's passport, and authorities have banned her from traveling until the legal issue is resolved. The AP reported that police typically enforce such travel bans while they take statements from the parties involved in an incident, and determine whether or not to forward the matter to prosecutors. Cases may be resolved if a complainant drops the complaint, a settlement between both sides is reached, or the case is taken to court, according to the AP.
Stirling told "GMA" Allen is "not doing very well."
"I have to say she's upset every day and it's an extremely stressful situation, I suppose, just not knowing whether you're going to end up in one of these prisons," Stirling said.
ABC News confirmed the State Department is aware of Allen's situation and is monitoring her case.
ABC News contributor Col. Steve Ganyard, a former State Department official, said help from the federal agency isn't guaranteed.
"The ability of the State Department is limited in many countries. Just because you asked the State Department to help doesn't mean that they'll be successful in getting you an early release," Ganyard said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas also told ABC News that the U.S. embassy has been in contact with the rental car agency and is hopeful Allen will be able to get her passport back.