UK to probe Dubai ‘abuse’ claims

AN INVESTIGATION into the mistreatment of two British businessmen who allege they were tortured by secret police in Dubai could take place after the men were released without charge last week. The men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the July 7 London bombings.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  August 7, 2005

AN INVESTIGATION into the mistreatment of two British businessmen who allege they were tortured by secret police in Dubai could take place after the men were released without charge last week. The men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the July 7 London bombings. Mohammed Rafiq Siddique, 38, and Alam Ghafoor, 34, from West Yorkshire claim they were repeatedly threatened with torture, deprived of sleep and told they would be killed and fed to the dogs. These allegations could now lead to an investigation by UK authorities based in the UAE. “I can confirm that Mohammed Rafiq Siddique and Alam Ghafoor are the names of two of the British nationals detained,” Vicky Lee-Gorton, a political and public affairs official at the British Embassy in Dubai told Arabian Business. “Any allegations of human rights abuse are taken very seriously by the British Embassy and with the consent of the individual or individuals concerned we can raise it with the authorities here and carry out an investigation,” she added. The two British Muslims were released and sent back to the UK last week after the British Embassy in Dubai intervened. Two other men were also arrested — one, a British citizen living in UAE, and the other, a Pakistani national, were also released. “Three British nationals were arrested in Dubai on July 21. They were released without charge on July 30, and have since returned to the UK,” said Lee-Gorton. British consular staff based in Dubai managed to gain access to the men on Saturday July 30 and were able to secure their release on the same day. “British consular staff visited the men on Saturday July 30. Our staff gained full consular access to ensure all of their immediate welfare needs were addressed,” Lee-Gorton added. Despite claims that British Intelligence passed on information to Dubai’s secret police that Siddique and Ghafoor were suspects in the July 7 London bombings, the British Embassy in Dubai maintains that the detentions were not made in conjunction with the UK police. “The arrests were not made with authority from the UK and were down to Dubai’s authorities,” explained Lee-Gorton. The men believe part of the reason they came under suspicion is because one of them comes from Dewsbury in west Yorkshire, like one of the suicide bombers, and has a name similar to him. Mohammed Rafiq Siddique believes he may have been confused with suicide bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan. Siddique and his business partner Ghafoor, from Huddersfield, left Manchester airport on July 4 to fly to the Middle East. During their ordeal they say they were shown pictures of the July 7 bombers and accused of financing, organising and other involvement in the attacks on London. In one interrogation Ghafoor says he asked to call the British Embassy, only to be told the British security services had requested his questioning. Ghafoor told The Guardian newspaper: “I want to phone the British Embassy. They said you are here because we were given information by British Intelligence, they told us to pick you up.” Ghafoor, who owns property in Dubai, says he was questioned for 36 hours virtually unbroken when he was arrested. “One guy said you will never get out, we can hold you for 10 years, no-one will ever find you, your government will do nothing. One said we’ll kill you and feed you to the dogs and there will be no trace of you,” he added. Later, he says, he was denied sleep for four days, and every time he tried to rest his head on his arms, it was knocked away: “I did not know whether it was day or night ... I was so delirious I wrote a confession, saying I knew the bombers, even though I did not. Then they said they may hang or shoot me,” he alleged. Siddique says he suffered a similar ordeal. He said: “I want some answers from the British government, did the intelligence services tip them off to arrest us. The British government could have acted a lot quicker and faster.” When approached by Arabian Business, Dubai Police declined to comment.

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