British student jailed in UAE after ‘confession’ under torture

June 2, 2014

A young British student who was tortured into signing a ‘confession’ has been jailed for nine years in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ahmad Zeidan, a 20-yr-old student from Berkshire, was arrested by local police in December 2013 and held incommunicado for several days, during which time he was hooded, beaten, and threatened with rape.

Mr Zeidan was also forced to sign documents in Arabic – a language he cannot read – which were subsequently used against him during his trial on drugs charges. Notes from British officials, after they were eventually able to visit Mr Zeidan, detail his mistreatment, including repeated refusals to let him see a doctor.

A flawed trial process saw the judge blocking Mr Zeidan’s lawyers from seeing the results of a prosecution investigation into his torture, which was initiated after the British government raised complaints about the abuse.

Legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, has uncovered evidence of a systematic pattern of torture in UAE prisons. A dossier submitted last week to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture on behalf of 19 prisoners details a pattern of abuse that includes hooding, beatings, threats of rape, and extended periods of solitary confinement.

Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said: “This sentence, based on Ahmad’s ‘confession’ under torture, is the result of a shockingly flawed trial process. Sadly, Ahmad’s case is just one of many that point to the systematic use of police torture in the UAE, and its acceptance by the authorities. The UAE must urgently reconsider Ahmad’s case, while the British government must do all it can to push for his release.” ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Documents including Reprieve’s complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and UK officials’ notes on Ahmad Zeidan are available on request. 2. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: (UK) +44 (0) 207 553 8160 /

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