BBC News

Student 'tortured' into drug charge confession in UAE

Interview by James Waterhouse
Newsbeat reporter

Published
image copyrightReprieve

A British student jailed on drugs charges in the United Arab Emirates has exclusively told Newsbeat he was tortured into making a confession.

Ahmad Zeidan was sentenced to nine years after cocaine was found in the car he was travelling in.

Speaking from prison, he claimed he didn't know anything about the drugs.

"They arrested me, took off the gold chain I was wearing, they tied it around their fist and started hitting me with it," he said.

"They then took us to a police station and forced me to sign papers in Arabic, saying basically that [the cocaine] was my possession and it belonged to me when it didn't.

"They kept me in a solitary cell for eight days. for eight days I didn't know where I was.

"They would repeatedly just randomly come in the cell and beat me."

The 20-year-old from Reading in Berkshire was arrested last December while driving with friends he had met in Dubai.

Zeidan was jailed after 0.04g of cocaine with a street value of about £3 were found in a bag in the car's glove compartment.

image copyrightGetty Images

He was studying at the Emirates Aviation College in Dubai at the time of his arrest.

The Foreign Office says it is aware a British national has received a custodial sentence in the country and say it is providing help.

Ahmad Zeidan's family hope their son will get a pardon.

The legal charity Reprieve says he is the victim of "a shockingly flawed trial process" and is calling on the British government to do more to secure his release.

Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said: "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."

Newsbeat has tried to contact the UAE authorities but has not received a response.

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Related Topics

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Drugs trade