Interpol president under investigation over torture and detention of two Britons detained in UAE
- Interpol president in France under investigation for complicity in torture
- Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi allegedly complicit in UAE security official
- Interpol’s headquarters are in Lyon, making it vulnerable to charges
- Magistrate must decide whether head of global police station enjoys diplomatic immunity from prosecution
French authorities have opened an investigation into the President of Interpol over charges of complicity in the torture and arbitrary detention of two Britons while he was a senior security official at the UAE Ministry of the Interior in 2018.
An investigating magistrate will have to decide whether Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi of the United Arab Emirates, in his position as head of the global police station, enjoys diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
UK’s Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad accuse al-Raisi of bearing ultimate responsibility – as a senior security official at the Ministry of Home Affairs – for the torture and arbitrary detention they claim they have suffered in the UAE.
Interpol’s headquarters are in the southeastern French city of Lyon, meaning al-Raisi could potentially be detained for questioning the next time he goes to the office.
General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, the head of the UAE’s security forces accused of torture, is about to become president of Interpol, the global police agency
Matthew Hedges (right) and Ali Issa Ahmad (left), from the United Kingdom, accuse al-Raisi of bearing ultimate responsibility – as a senior security official at the Home Office – for the torture and arbitrary detention they say they have committed have undergone in the UAE
British citizen Matthew Hedges talks during a press conference with compatriot Ali Issa Ahmad, departed, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, November 22, 2021. Hedges said he was detained and tortured in the UAE between May and November 2018 after he was arrested on false charges. accusations of espionage during a study trip
British academic Hedges said he was detained and tortured in the UAE between May and November 2018 after being arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip.
He has sued four UAE officials – including Al-Raisi – for £350,000 in damages after he was allegedly held in ankle cuffs, denied sleep and given a cocktail of drugs.
The British brought the charges under the French principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows France to prosecute serious crimes, even when committed on foreign soil.
British academic Matthew Hedges said he was detained and tortured in the UAE between May and November 2018 after being arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip. He is suing Al-Raisi and three other officials for £350,000 in damages (pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada)
The case against al-Raisi, which was opened in late March, goes one step further than the torture investigation opened against him in November by French prosecutors following the detention of UAE dissident Ahmed Mansoor.
At the time, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed the complaints about Mansoor’s detention conditions as “unfounded.”
Hedges seeks damages from four UAE officials, including Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al-Raisi
“Any legal complaint that can be made with allegations against al-Raisi is unfounded and will be rejected,” the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs added.
In the latter case, the investigation is now in the hands of an investigating judge, a step prior to the filing of any charges.
The UAE embassy in Paris declined to comment.
Al-Raisi was a controversial choice when he was elected president of Interpol last November.
There were fears it could take authoritarian states to put him in the top job that using Interpol to prosecute critics abroad is “okay.”
There were also concerns that the system of Red Notices – international arrest warrants issued by Interpol – could be abused by corrupt regimes targeting their political opponents.
In October 2020, 19 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, expressed concern over Raisi’s possible choice, which they described as “part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics.”