"They have ruined our son's life," say Graham and Patricia, the parents of Jamie Harron. They are furious over German company Neuman & Esser's stance supporting Managing Director Emad Tabaza. Scotsman Jamie faces years in prison over public indecency charges in Dubai. Jamie, who has already lost his job, all his savings and ran up substantial credit card debts during Dubai detainment, tells of his fears for the future.
27 year old Jamie Harron was arrested five months ago after Neuman & Esser’s Managing Director, Emad Tabaza made a complaint to the police that Harron had brushed up against him in a Dubai bar called Rock Bottom. On Tabaza's word, Jamie was arrested and is being prosecuted for public indecency, drinking alcohol and now it seems, for a rude gesture (raising his middle finger). Jamie denies all charges except drinking alcohol.
The case has attracted international media attention and social media users have been outraged, lobbying the company to #FireEmadTabaza.
According to a statement made by the NEA Group (Neuman & Esser), Managing Director Emad Tabaza had withdrawn the complaint in August (unconfirmed). However local prosecution services are proceeding with their case, despite some news providers reporting that he would be released.
If convicted, Jamie faces potentially years in prisons that the UK have consistently refused to extradite people to, based on the serious risk of unfair trials, human rights violations and torture. Another British man, Lee Bradley Brown, died in UAE police custody and according to witnesses, as a result of police brutality.
Jamie sent a voicemail to Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai who is assisting with his case. In the heart wrenching message, he said, “I heard a rumour that the accuser dropped the case against me and thought I would be freed. Now I am being told that the prosecutors are not dropping the case, even though the accuser withdrew the complaint. It looks like this is going to continue.
"I have been here for 5 months now. I thought it was going to be brief stop in Dubai, before starting my job. I took this job in Afghanistan in a risky situation because I wanted to give myself a good start in life. I wanted everything right and organised for the future. It’s all backfired now. Now because of all this mess over a two day stopover, I am in debt and stand to lose my house, everything I’ve worked for, and my freedom.
"All of the support from everyone back home has just made me feel so homesick. I miss my family so much. The whole situation is just unbearable. I just feel shattered, but I want to send my appreciation to everyone who is trying to help me and I really hope to see you all soon.”
Jamie’s parents, Graham and Patricia are nervously awaiting word of their sons fate. Graham said “We were really surprised to see the statement of the company. They said he had dropped the charges in August but they never spoke to our lawyer and nothing changed. Our son is still being prosecuted and still faces jail time. People need to understand that it is not a joke to make complaints to the police, especially in that country. The consequences are very serious and they can ruin people’s lives as they have Jamie’s. Maybe it wasn’t his (Mr Tabaza’s) intention for it to go so far, but it has, and we are all suffering for it."
David Haigh, Managing Partner at legal advisory Stirling Haigh said, “as many will know I have first-hand experience of the vindictive and unjust nature of Dubai’s weak legal system. A system rampant with corruption, bribery and nepotism, that discriminates against Westerners and especially Brits. The unjust detention of a Westerner and specifically a Christian is often seen as macabre sport by Emiratis. I have seen literally thousands of people put through the horror of the Dubai jail system, many physical and sexually abused by the Dubai police for things as holding the hand of their girlfriend, drinking or, as in my case, using social media.
"Having read the statement by Nueman & Esser, it seems it is nothing more than damage limitation of a corporation trying to excuse the zealousness and vindictive attitude of one of its senior executives in attempting to destroy a young Brits life. There is no justification for what is being done to Mr Harron. Jailing any nationality unjustly is never 'sport.' The statement itself is just not credible or logical and clearly has not been thought through.
"Jamie, like millions of other Westerners. went to Dubai for a holiday and to relax with his friends. Mr Harron, who is straight, did not go to have a fight with or touch up' an elderly man. Jamie Harron was in a licensed venue, he was drinking responsibly with his friends and was not drunk.
"Dubai is promoted heavily by Dubai tourism, Emirates airlines and its young crown prince Sheikh Hamdan Al Makhtoum as a cosmopolitan oasis of youth and liberalism where champagne fuelled beach parties go on into the night.. The reality is a repressive country with an archaic corrupt legal system. It is a hypocritical regime, where you can be jailed for holding your fiancés hand yet hard-core drugs are on every corner and prostitutes fill the thousands of bars and nightclubs.
"We will keep hearing of cases such as Mr Harron’s until the Foreign Office and British Government stand up for British expats in Dubai. They need to urgently review our relationship with the UAE and our extradition treaty with them. They need to make it clear that unjust jailing of a Brit is not 'sport' and will not be accepted. Of great concern is the growing trend of retired British Judges joining the Dubai courts on million Dirham salaries. In doing so these judges add a false degree of respectability to the UAE legal system, when in fact torture and breaches of human rights are common. These greedy judges are being allowed to sell the reputation of British Justice to launder the UAE’s human rights abuses. It is of course not theirs to sell.”
Neuman & Esser, the giant international mechanical engineering group is facing widespread public backlash over its support for an employee who levelled the allegations against Scotsman Jamie Harron. Neuman & Esser issued a statement last week reiterating the accusations of Emad Tabaza against Jamie, even embellishing them and adding verifiably inaccurate information. Now the company is suffering the wrath of social media.
Jamie. Popular and fun loving young Scotsman, who brushed past the wrong 'important man' in a crowded nightclub.
According to the company, Tabaza has even received death threats from anonymous members of the public over what are almost unanimously regarded as false or highly exaggerated allegations. The situation has cost Jamie his freedom, his job, and significant financial loss, and which could potentially see him jailed for up to three years in the UAE where human rights abuses and torture have been thoroughly documented.
“It was a very strange statement by the company, considering the fact that they claim Mr Tabaza himself sought to have the case dismissed,” said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “If their intention was to stand by their employee, one would think they would have stood by his desire to drop the charges, rather than issuing an aggressive statement that further escalated the matter.”
Trending hashtags on social media emerged following the company’s statement calling for Mr Tabaza’s firing, with many people blaming Neuman & Esser for supporting the wrongful prosecution of Jamie Harron by a legal system many regard as corrupt and Draconian. “Shame on you Neuman & Esser”, one user exclaimed, while others have been sharing the contact information for the company’s executives so that the public can express their disapproval directly. The case has even led to calls for a boycott of the UAE.
Stirling said, “We have seen people cancelling flights to Dubai, even at the cost of financial penalties, just to avoid traveling to the UAE.”
Neuman & Esser is a multi-million dollar company with considerable influence in the UAE, their statement aligning themselves with the Public Prosecutor’s Office may well impact the outcome of Jamie’s case.
Stirling continued,"again, it is curious that Neuman & Esser would choose to take the side of the prosecution in this matter rather than calling for the case to be dismissed as their own employee supposedly wanted. They have positioned themselves on the opposite side of overwhelming public opinion, not only about Jamie’s case, but about the justness of the UAE legal system. We fail to see how this is in Mr Tabaza’s or Neuman & Esser’s best interests, and it may well lead to the irreparable ruin of an innocent young man’s life”.