UAE denies arresting British football fan for wearing a Qatar shirt
The UAE has denied arresting a British man for wearing a Qatar football shirt and accused him instead of faking injuries to gain media attention and waste police time.
Ali Issa Ahmad, a 26-year-old from Wolverhampton, was arrested in January after attending an Asian Cup match in Dubai wearing a football shirt from Qatar, the neighbour and enemy of the UAE.
Mr Ahmad told friends that he was arrested because of the shirt and then beaten by UAE police. He said when he went to a police station to complain about the abuse, he was arrested again and charged with making a false complaint.
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The UAE embassy in London said Wednesday that was not the case. The embassy said Mr Ahmad went to a police station and claimed to have been attacked by UAE football fans because of the Qatar shirt.
When he was taken to hospital, a doctor found “his injuries were inconsistent with his account of events and appeared to be self-inflicted,” the embassy said. He was then charged with wasting police time and making false statements.
“He was categorically not arrested for wearing a Qatar football shirt. This is instead an instance of a person seeking media attention and wasting police time,” said a UAE official.
The UAE said Mr Ahmad was a dual British-Sudanese citizen and spoke fluent Arabic, so he “fully understands the situation he has put himself in”.
The confused situation is likely to put fresh strains on the relationship between Britain and the UAE, which were already frayed over the case of Matthew Hedges, a British academic who was convicted of spying and sentenced to life in prison. He was freed and pardoned after seven months’ imprisonment.
“This is not the first time an official government version of events drastically differs from that provided by an expat in UAE custody,” said Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, a group that works on civil liberties issues in the UAE.
“It is a pattern with the UAE and other Gulf States to issue official denials and counter-narratives that absolve the government of wrongdoing.”