Hitmaker Dallas Austin Released From Dubai Jail

Producer's lawyer says Austin is 'safely out of the country.'

Dallas Austin was released from a Dubai jail and has left the United Arab Emirates, a lawyer for the producer told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Wednesday. “He is on a plane and safely out of the country,” Atlanta-based attorney Joel A. Katz said in an e-mail to the newspaper.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum pardoned the American R&B producer Tuesday, hours after he was sentenced to four years in prison for possession of cocaine. Dubai prosecutors confirmed that Austin was pardoned, on the condition that he leave Dubai as soon as all the paperwork to process his release was completed. Austin would have to get permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to return to the country.

“The Austin family and countless dear friends are very happy to have Dallas back home, safe and sound,” Austin’s representative, Michelle Benson, said. “They also are grateful to the leadership of the UAE and Dubai for their sensitivity and humanity.”

Austin, 33 — who’s worked with TLC, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Pink, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and many others over his 17-year career — was traveling to Dubai to attend Naomi Campbell’s three-day birthday party at the Burj Al Arab hotel when he was detained at Dubai International Airport on May 19 (see “Hitmaker Dallas Austin Imprisoned In Dubai On Drug Charges” ).

Dubai police had pulled Austin aside at customs upon his arrival at the airport and searched his luggage, where they found a small bag containing slightly more than a gram of cocaine. The presence of restricted drugs and medication in the body can count as possession in the United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf nation in which Dubai is located, and Austin’s urine had also tested positive for drugs, according to authorities.

Austin claimed at his arraignment on Sunday that he was only guilty “by mistake” (see “Hitmaker Dallas Austin Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges in Dubai” ). “I had no knowledge and no intention of violating the law,” he told the court.

[This story was originally published on 07.04.06 at 10:18 a.m. ET]