Concern over the unjust detention of British veteran Andy Neal grows every day that his incarceration is prolonged. Tomorrow, Thursday 21st March 2019, Minister of State Alistair Burt and MP Mark Spencer will be meeting with Andy’s parents to discuss their son’s plight and what the British government is doing to help secure his release.
‘We are very grateful to see the Minister’s keenness to support Andy and his family,’ says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, whose organisation is representing Neal. ‘MP Mark Spencer has been involved since the early days in the case, and respected officers of the British military have been vocal in their calls for the government to intervene on Andy’s behalf, such as Col. Patrick Mercer and Col. Richard Kemp.
‘The support from the general public has been overwhelming since details were first published of the outrageous treatment Andy has suffered. Although the Dubai Public Prosecutor’s office has acknowledged that the drug charges against Andy are unsubstantiated, and in fact contradicted by the evidence; rather than releasing him, Andy has been transferred to Abu Dhabi where an investigation will start all over again.’
Andy’s parents, Maurice and Sue, and his wife Angela are hopeful tonight as they prepare to meet Burt and Spencer. ‘Honestly, we have been terribly disappointed by the inaction of the government to support Andy up until now,’ Maurice says: ‘After all that Andy has given to this country, putting his life on the line in conflict zones around the world, it is a major scandal that the British government would abandon him to be abused and wrongfully detained by a supposed ally. It means the world to us that Alistair Burt and Mr Spencer are coming to the table to finally see what can be done to bring this nightmare to an end.’
Andrew Neal who has now been diagnosed with PTSD, served over 20 years in the British army, as a dog trainer in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia before moving to Dubai to start a new life as a civilian. He was arrested in October last year, accused of selling narcotics along with several other suspects, though no drugs were ever found in his possession nor in his bloodstream.
Phone records indicate that he had no connection to any of the other accused parties in the case, and an informant who allegedly implicated Andy later denied ever having named him. ‘In fact, the police and prosecutors know exactly who the guilty person is in this case, but that person was deported on an unrelated charge before they discovered her role in the drug operation,’ Stirling explains. ‘They know without question that Andy is innocent, but refuse to admit that his arrest was unjustified, and continue to hold him without cause.’
Detained in Dubai and the Neal family have been campaigning for Andy’s release with increasing impact over the past several weeks. A petition set up by the family is gaining momentum and British nationals are encouraged to sign and share. ‘The meeting tomorrow is extremely important. As we saw in the Matthew Hedges case, and countless others,’ Stirling says: ‘The UAE does not respond until there is a deafening outcry from the international community over their abuse of foreign citizens, and until the governments of those citizens demand a resolution.’