A former British soldier, who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, is being detained in the United Arab Emirates over what his lawyers claim was a forced confession for drug dealing.
Andrew Neal, 44, who received 17 medals during 24 years in the army, was arrested at his home in Dubai on 4 October.
Neal, who was diagnosed with PTSD on his last tour of Afghanistan as an army dog handler, was beaten and tricked into confessing to drug deal, according to Detained in Dubai, a group of legal campaigners, who have taken on his case. They are demanding Neal’s immediate release and say they have evidence that exonerates him and proves that the UAE authorities know they have made a mistake.
Radha Stirling, the founder of Detained in Dubai, who is representing Neal, also said his original accuser had retracted his statement.
A spokeswoman from the Foreign Office said: “We are providing assistance to a British man after his arrest in Dubai and are in touch with his family and the UAE authorities.”
Stirling wants the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to take up the case. “We are calling on the support of Jeremy Hunt to stand up for Andy Neal, a man who has dedicated much of his life to supporting the British forces abroad, and who was recovering from PTSD following his service in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.”
Neal’s business as a dog trainer in Dubai faces ruin because of his treatment. He claims he was punched twice in the stomach by the police officer who arrested him, Stirling said. He also told her he was pinned against a wall by the neck and told to cooperate or face 10 years in jail. His wife was told not to talk to anyone and police threatened to take her children away, Stirling claimed.
After his arrest Neal alleges he was forced to ring the doorbell of an address where drugs were found. He continued to profess his innocence but was forced to sign, with a fingerprint, a confession in Arabic that he did not understand, Stirling said.
She said: “Andy has lost his business, and has lost four months of his life to what can only be described as despicable police practice. Andy should not spend another night in prison. It is shameful that law enforcement has a rubber stamp to ruin people’s lives, rob children of their parents, and jail innocent persons with impunity. How is it that forced confessions are still standard procedure in the UAE?”
Stirling claimed that Neal’s case was an example of the continuing human rights abuses in the UAE. This month a British football fan, Ali Issa Ahmad, was arrested and detained in Dubai after he wore a Qatar national team shirt to a match.
Last November a British academic, Matthew Hedges, returned to the UK after being accused of spying and jailed for life in UAE. He served seven months of his sentence, mostly in solitary confinement. He was released after receiving a pardon from the UAE authorities.
The UAE embassy in London has been asked to comment.
Former UK soldier held in UAE for drug dealing – The Guardian