Tortured Briton Ahmad Zeidan appeals against UAE conviction

August 7, 2014

A British student who was tortured by police in the UAE into ‘confessing’ to drugs offences has today appealed against his conviction.

Ahmad Zeidan, 21, from Berkshire, was arrested on 13 December 2013 in the Emirate of Sharjah, which borders Dubai.  In a phone interview yesterday he told the BBC how he was then beaten by police officers, hooded, stripped and threatened with rape.  He was then forced to sign documents in Arabic, a language he cannot read, which are now being used against him by the prosecution.

Today, lawyers for Mr Zeidan, who is being supported by legal charity Reprieve, appealed against his conviction and nine year sentence on drug possession charges.  A ruling from the judge is expected on 8 September.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has raised concerns over Mr Zeidan’s treatment, telling Reprieve in a letter released this week that allegations of torture are taken “extremely seriously” by the UK.  Mr Cameron added that “[British] officials have recently made clear the importance of expediting the investigation into the allegations of mistreatment and asked the UAE to bring these to a conclusion before the appeal hearing”.

However, with the appeal now underway, there has still been no indication that any such investigation has taken place, let alone been concluded.  No information regarding the investigation has been provided to Mr Zeidan, his lawyers, or Reprieve.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty team said: “Mr Zeidan is the latest victim of the UAE’s police torture epidemic.  The use of brutal torture to extract bogus confessions means that the Emirati ‘justice’ system is not worthy of the name.   Britain’s calls for an investigation into Mr Zeidan’s torture have so far been ignored – the UK Government must keep up the pressure at the highest level to secure justice.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell: donald[DOT]campbell[AT]reprieve.org.uk, or see http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/2014_04_09_PUB_Ahmad_Zeidan/

2. The Prime Minister’s letter to Reprieve concerning Mr Zeidan’s torture is available on request.  Mr Zeidan’s interview with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on 6 August 2014 can be found here, from 10 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04cb2rq