Father of tortured UAE Brit tells PM: save my son
November 13, 2014
The father of a student from Berkshire has urged the Prime Minister to intervene to secure the release of his son from a prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of an upcoming amnesty.
Ahmad Zeidan, 21, was jailed earlier this year in Sharjah, near Dubai, after he was forced to sign a ‘confession’ in Arabic – a language he cannot read – following eight days of beatings, hooding and threats of rape. At a recent appeal hearing, an Emirati court upheld Ahmad’s nine-year conviction and refused to consider evidence of his torture and forced confession.
David Cameron has told legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting the Zeidan family, that the Government takes Ahmad’s reports of mistreatment “extremely seriously”, but failed to intervene directly in his case ahead of the appeal. Last year, three Britons jailed in Dubai after a similar torture ordeal were pardoned shortly after Mr Cameron raised their case with the President of the UAE.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live today, Ahmad’s father, Manal Zeidan, urged the Prime Minister to petition the ruler of Sharjah for his son’s release as part of an upcoming amnesty on 2nd December. Mr Zeidan said the amnesty was “our last window, our last hope” for Ahmad “to have his life back”.
He said his son was “just a young lad, a student”, and that the ordeal had traumatised him and his family. Ahmad’s health had deteriorated in prison, he said, and the family “can’t imagine the prospect of him spending the next nine years in prison – we’re hopeless.” If his son was not included in the amnesty, he added, “I don’t want to even think about what will happen”.
Police torture in the UAE is widespread and well-documented; a recent study conducted in Dubai by Reprieve found that 75 per cent of prisoners experienced some form of abuse following arrest. Given this record, Reprieve recently raised concerns with the Government about its involvement in a trade fair for UK security firms hosted by the Dubai police.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “Once again, we are seeing fake ‘confessions’ extracted through torture, flagrantly unfair trials and extremely harsh sentences – including potential death sentences – handed down to young British men in the Emirates. Ahmad’s is the latest in a string of such abuses, and David Cameron should intervene without delay to put an end to his prolonged and cruel ordeal.”
1. For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 553 8160
2. Manal Zeidan’s interview with BBC Radio Five Live will be available shortly here (UK only, at approx. 2hrs 35 mins).
3. Reprieve’s study of police torture in the UAE is available here.
4. Details of the recent Dubai Police trade fair, and the UK’s involvement, are available here.