A former British soldier jailed without charge in Dubai for five months is set to be transferred to Abu Dhabi this week, his family told Sky News as they expressed growing concern over his treatment.
Andrew Neal, who has post-traumatic stress disorder from his military service, was told over the weekend he would be moved to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, his parents said.
His father Maurice appealed to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for help in securing his son’s release.
Mr Neal told Sky News: “His position [Mr Hunt’s] is to stand up for the rights of British people abroad.
“I want him or Alistair Burt [the Foreign Office minister who covers the Middle East] to do something.
“Speak up – that is all he has to do.”
Police arrested Andrew Neal on 4 October, accusing him of selling drugs – a charge he has denied.
His family said prosecutors had failed to produce any evidence against Mr Neal, who spent 24 years in the army, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
The foreign secretary visited Abu Dhabi just over a week ago as part of a brief tour of the region to try to help end the war in Yemen.
The Foreign Office, however, has yet to specify whether the foreign secretary raised Mr Neal’s predicament with his opposite number, Abdullah bin Zayed.
A spokeswoman said the foreign secretary “raises all consular cases of concern at the appropriate moment and in the appropriate way”, but did not respond to a follow up question about whether or not this meant the matter had been discussed.
“Our staff have visited him on several occasions and are providing updates to his family. We remain in contact with the UAE authorities regarding his case,” the spokeswoman added.
The head of a campaigning group called Detained In Dubai, which is supporting the family, warned last month that the Dubai prosecutors would no longer be responsible for Mr Neal’s case if he is transferred to Abu Dhabi.
Radha Stirling said “the whole investigation would begin again”, meaning potentially even more time imprisoned without charge for Mr Neal, who ran a successful dog training business in Dubai, where he has lived with his family since leaving the army in 2015.
His mother Sue said she was “very concerned… [and] angry, very angry” about the prospective move, adding: “We don’t know what will happen when he goes to Abu Dhabi.”
Mr Neal and his wife were invited by the Dubai royal family to attend an annual horse racing world cup event in the city this time last year, as well as the previous year, because his son did dog training work for the family.
“Just how life changes,” Maurice Neal said. “Now he is in one of their jails.”
Supporters have set up a petition on the UK parliament website to try to raise pressure on the government to help the decorated veteran.