Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: alice.gillham@reprieve.org.uk / +44 207 553 8160

Press Release

'They Would Just Randomly Beat Me': British Student Tells of UAE Torture Ordeal

LONDON -

A British student who was tortured into ‘confessing’ to drugs charges in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has spoken out about his ordeal.

Ahmad Zeidan, a 21-year-old from Berkshire, was arrested by local police in December 2013 and held incommunicado for several days, during which time he was hooded, beaten, and threatened with rape. Mr Zeidan was also forced to sign documents in Arabic – a language he cannot read – which were subsequently used against him in a flawed trial process that ended with his being sentenced to nine years in Sharjah prison, UAE.

The judge and prosecutors pledged to investigate Mr Zeidan's torture after a complaint by the British government, but subsequently blocked his lawyers from seeing evidence of the abuse.
Speaking from the prison in an interview broadcast today, Mr Zeidan told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat about his arrest and torture, saying that police “just arrested me [and started] beating me.

“They then took us to a police station and forced me to sign papers in Arabic.

“They kept me in a solitary cell for eight days - for eight days, my family didn't know where I was. They would repeatedly just randomly come in the cell and beat me.”

Asked about conditions at Sharjah prison, Mr Zeidan said: “I'm in a cell most of the whole day, with eleven other prisoners – we're allowed to go out once a week only.”

Legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, has uncovered evidence of a systematic pattern of torture in UAE prisons. A dossier submitted last week to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture on behalf of 19 prisoners details a pattern of abuse that includes hooding, beatings, threats of rape, and extended periods of solitary confinement.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “Hearing Ahmad’s words from the prison today, it’s clear that he’s been through a terrifying ordeal that has included torture and a forced confession – sadly all too common in the UAE. The authorities must investigate the deeply troubling circumstances of Ahmad’s arrest and torture, and take steps to comply with its international obligations so others like him don’t suffer the same fate.”

###

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·


Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo