Alexander “Sandy” Mitchell, from Glasgow in Scotland, said he was so scarred by the experience he would probably never leave Britain again.
The 47-year-old said the five Britons, a Canadian and a Belgian imprisoned for the bomb attacks, which many suspected were the work of local extremists, had faced unspecified torture.
“We were tortured – that’s why we had to make those confessions. We can prove we are innocent,” he told Scotland’s Sunday Mail in his first comments since returning to Britain on Friday.
“It’s beautiful to be home. It’s still a bit of a dream. I woke up at 7 am and still couldn’t believe I was here,” he told the newspaper.
“I will never go to an Arab country again. I will probably never leave the UK again. I just want to get on with my life as soon as possible.”
Westerners faced execution
Mitchell said that he had also been pressured into making a public confession on television after being told by Saudi police that his wife and young son were being tortured, the newspaper added.
Mitchell and British-born William Sampson, who now holds a Canadian passport, faced execution for allegedly masterminding bomb attacks in 2000 and 2001. The bombings left a Briton dead and two other Britons and an Irishwoman injured.
The other four Britons and the Belgian were given long jail sentences.
Saudi authorities said the bombings were part of a turf war between gangs of westerners involved in supplying illicit liquor to Saudi Arabia’s expatriate community.
Prince Charles ‘used connections’
But the men’s families, lawyers and others argued they were scapegoats for attacks carried out by Islamist radicals operating in Saudi Arabia.
All seven were released after Saudi King Fahd granted them royal clemency. According to the Observer newspaper, the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, played a key role in securing the men’s release.
“The prince has excellent connections within Saudi Arabia. He has been very keen that the case should be re-looked at by the Saudi authorities,” a spokesman for Charles was quoted as saying.
Supporters of the jailed men said that the British government had been unnecessarily reticent over the issue so as not to upset the Saudi government, a key ally for Britain and the United States.