An American who claims he was tortured by police in Dubai after they found police handcuffs in his suitcase could be jailed for seven years, it emerged today.
Adam Foster, 30, was returning home from the United Arab Emirates in February when officers pulled him up at an airport.
They found police handcuffs in his luggage which Foster said he had earlier found on the street and collected as a souvenir.
But he alleges that police tied him to a chair before he was whipped and beaten until he confessed.
A judge is expected to next week give a verdict on the case, which has become the focus of an internet campaign to release Foster, from Burdett, New York.
Foster said he was tortured and forced to write a confession in Arabic but he had no idea what it actually said.
‘The pain was unimaginable so I told them I did it. I told them ”I’m sorry”. I have no idea what [the confession] said,’ he told CNN by telephone.
Foster had been working in the strict Middle Eastern country on a six-week contract with Dubai Energy Water Authority.
He claims that he found the handcuffs on the floor in the street and picked them up to take home as a souvenir.
But scanners at the airport found the cuffs and he was pulled over by the authorities.
He said he was questioned and taken to a police station where he was interrogated by two officers.
Foster claims that after maintaining his innocence for several hours he was beaten and forced to confess.
He said he was told to take off his shoes and socks and handcuffed to a chair while one of the officers whipped the bottom of his feet. He said he was also punched in the face.
UAE investigators charged Foster with theft of government property, possession of police paraphernalia and theft at night.
Foster was released on bail and is currently staying at a hotel. He has taken back the confession and alleges that he was tortured beforehand.
‘He insists he found the handcuffs in the parking lot of Ibn Battuta Mall (in Dubai) and thought he would keep them as a souvenir,’ said Yousef Hammad, his lawyer. A judge will hear the case on May 19.
As a further example of the strict regime, Foster was questioned by police earlier in his stay about why he was carrying a bottle of Korean rice wine, a leaving gift from colleagues. He was then released without charge.
Some 1,000 people have now appealed through an internet campaign to officials the UAE and the U.S. for the release of Foster.
‘This is a person who has never stood before a court in the past,’ Hammad said. ‘He had no bad intentions and I imagine the court will take this into account, I hope the punishment would be massively lessened.’
Dubai’s foreign population expanded rapidly in recent years as expatriates flocked to the Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub for its tax-free earnings and year-round sunshine. Many have fallen foul of the UAE’s strict rules governing conduct.
The changes have challenged the Emirati population, now vastly outnumbered by foreigners, raising concerns that the rapid pace of growth is a threat to their social and religious identity in what remains a deeply conservative region.
The U.S. embassy declined to comment on Foster’s case, citing privacy rules. A Dubai police spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Hammad said he would ask the court for an acquittal or to reduce the charges to taking possession of a found object.
Hammad said police accused Foster of stealing the handcuffs from a police officer when he was questioned at a police station earlier in a separate case, although he gave no further details.
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