Desperation is building as army veteran dog handler Andy Neal's imprisonment continues. “I simply can't believe that Dubai can lock up my son for nearly half a year without just cause and the UK government has left them get away with it. It's heartbreaking to learn that this is not even an isolated incident, that Dubai has been doing this to British nationals for years and that, an organisation like Detained in Dubai even has to exist. The British government is aware that Dubai jails people without evidence but they don't tell you about that on their website. The perception they create is that if you obey the law, you'll be fine and that's exactly what Andy did, he's not fine - he's a hostage” explains Maurice Neal, Andy's father, “I urge British citizens to stand up for Andy and express their outrage at the jailing of an innocent man, STOP VISITING DUBAI”.
Andy Neal has been detained without evidence for over five months on allegations of selling drugs based on a single witness statement that the witness confirmed was inaccurate. No drugs were found in Andy's possession, in his car, in his house or in his blood. All tests returned negative, his technology and phones searched, all confirming zero involvement.
Andy's friends and army colleagues described him as someone who condemned drug use and has no interest. He is a family man and a dog trainer and handler in Dubai. Andy also suffers from PTSD after his service in the British army and has been denied treatment while in custody. His mother Sue Neal, who is living a parent's worst nightmare, has not been able to sleep and lives in a constant state of stress. Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai who is representing the family said “The police not only failed to competently investigate the case, but have locked up an innocent British family man for over four months.
“UK citizens are not strangers to legal abuse by the Dubai justice system. This organisation was in fact formed after Londoner Cat Le-Huy was detained for seven weeks without evidence. Perry Coppins, a 61 year old maritime security officer was detained for carrying prescription anti-depressant medication and only released after our campaign”. Mr Coppins was denied his medication in custody, and his condition deteriorated rapidly as he suffered severe withdrawal, including hallucinations, bouts of blindness and weight loss. Coppins has expressed sincere concern for Andy’s plight.
Maurice continued “Andy has been deprived his much needed medication for PTSD, and has been denied psychiatric care. Sue and I are beside ourselves with worry about what long term impact this detention will have on him. He is a brave but vulnerable man and is just not equipped to deal with this ongoing abuse”.
Sue and Maurice appealed again to Jeremy Hunt, who has just left the UAE to intervene in the case of a British veteran who has given so much to his country.
My wife and I send this email to you personally in a high state of anxiety, distress and feelings of great helplessness regarding the detainment in Dubai of our innocent son Andrew Neal.
He has now been detained, without charge ,without evidence against him for five months. Allegations against his involvement in "drug dealing" have already been officially withdrawn by the so called witness to the "Prosecutors" but they have done nothing to release an innocent man.
As a decorated soldier in the British Army for twenty four years ,serving in conflicts around the world we feel he deserves a more proactive response from the government to obtain his speedy release.
We are increasingly concerned for both his and his wife and children's welfare. Andrew was diagnosed with severe PTSD by the Army before he left for civvy street, and this detention is making all the symptoms return. We fear for his long term mental state if this situation is not resolved quickly.
Please can you inform us of what the government and you personally are actively doing to obtain our sons urgent and long overdue release from this hell we are all going through?
Please with the greatest respect we need your urgent help to release the whole family from this torture and return Andrew to his loved ones first in Dubai and then return to England as quickly as possible"
- Maurice and Sue Neal.
Mr and Mrs Neal’s request comes after Colonel Patrick Mercer appealed for British government intervention. “It is completely unacceptable for the UK government to allow this kind of treatment of a British citizen. Andrew Neal has served his country with distinction for 24 years. A combat zone dog handler operates in extremely dangerous conditions, putting his own life constantly at risk for the safety of his comrades. For our government to abandon Andrew Neal after this service would be completely unacceptable.” Jeremy Hunt has previously advocated for the release of Matthew Hedges and other Brits facing injustice abroad. With Andy being a former serviceman to the United Kingdom, Hunt has even more reason to show his support.
The British government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Arab Emirates intended to help the UAE’s media effectiveness in the UK. Radha Stirling commented “It is quite troubling that the UK would enter into this agreement at the very moment that a British citizen [Matthew Hedges] was being falsely accused and imprisoned. We have a number of innocent Britons, such as Andrew Neal, currently detained in the UAE; and countless others in the past who travelled to the Emirates precisely because they have been led to believe it is a safe destination, but who subsequently found themselves arrested, intimidated, tortured, and forced to sign false confessions which result in wrongful convictions. Instead of cooperating with the UAE to do even more to promote that country, the UK owes a duty to its citizens to increase their travel warnings and educate the British public about the severe dangers of traveling to or through the Emirates.
“If the UK government is going to help the British public learn about the services provided by the UAE government, will they then include information about the falsification of evidence, the use of torture, the detention without trial, and the ability of creditors to have people thrown into jail indefinitely for bounced cheques? These are among the ‘services’ offered by the UAE government about which most British citizens need to be made aware.
“Andy’s case is one of the most blatant representations of the injustice that occurs against expats and foreigners in the UAE, and throughout the Gulf States, on a regular basis. Not only is there no evidence to suggest he is guilty of what the police have alleged, in fact, all evidence proves his innocence; yet the authorities continue to hold him. We have seen similar instances in other cases time and time again. The British government remains hesitant to act, and have actually committed to improving the image of the UAE, which inevitably means cooperating in hiding the gross abuses that the Emirates’ legal system habitually commits. The British public, therefore, need to stand with Andrew Neal and his family, along with all the other innocent foreigners victimised by the endemically unjust UAE system, and begin avoiding Dubai as a destination for tourism, work, and investment. The Emirates cannot continue to get away with these constant and unapologetic violations of human rights with impunity.”
Radha Stirling, is founder and CEO of UK / USA based legal and human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Expert Witness and respected analyst of Middle East Policy.
Copyright © Detained in Dubai 2007-2018. Detained in Dubai Limited, is registered in England and Wales under company number 11248768 with its registered office at Kemp House, 180 City Road, London EC1 2NX UK