UK football fan sues UAE for alleged torture; false imprisonment

Ali Issa Ahmed says he was targeted for wearing a Qatar football jersey at a match in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

Briton says he was imprisoned after attending an Asian Cup football match while on holiday [File: Ibraheem Al Omari/Reuters]

A UK football fan filed a lawsuit against six officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), claiming he was tortured and falsely imprisoned during a trip to the country in 2019.

Ali Issa Ahmed said he was imprisoned after attending an Asian Cup football match while on holiday in the UAE. He was charged with making a false statement and wasting police time after he said he was beaten up for supporting the Qatari national team.

While being held between January 23 and February 12, Ahmed said he was subject to intentional physical and psychological harm as well as negligence, the lawsuit said.

“I was very badly tortured and nearly killed in prison in the UAE,” Ahmed said in a statement released by his lawyers on Thursday. “They tried to make it look as though I did these things to myself, that I cut and burnt myself.

“The UAE authorities have ignored all my complaints and there has been no investigation, and no one held accountable,” he said. “I have decided to launch a civil case against those who are responsible for torturing me so that the truth can come out and there can finally be justice for the terrible things that were done to me.”

The lawsuit names the head and second-in-command of the Abu Dhabi police force, the head of the Sharjah police force, and the head of the state security public prosecution in Abu Dhabi.

In a previous interview with the Guardian newspaper, Ahmad, a duel Sudanese-British citizen, said he was approached by officials and asked to hand over the Qatar jersey he was wearing. Showing sympathy for Qatar is punishable in the Emirati state, with offenders facing a jail term of up to 15 years.

He said he was later punched in the face, handcuffed, and left bleeding by security officials after he wore a different Qatar shirt at a beach the next day.

The UAE embassy in London previously said Ahmed’s injuries were “inconsistent with his account of the event and appeared to be self-inflicted” and refuted claims that Ahmed was targeted for wearing the Qatar jersey.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017, imposing a land, air and sea blockade.

In January 2021, the countries signed an agreement officially ending the crisis.

Source: Al Jazeera