London: Britain’s Karl Andree, who was facing the threat of flogging in Saudi Arabia for being caught with home-made wine, is to be released from custody, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said today.
“Delighted to announce Brit Karl Andree will be released from Saudi custody within a week and reunited with his family,” Hammond wrote on Twitter after meeting King Salman on a visit to Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister David Cameron added on Twitter that the news was “good to hear”.
The family of Andree, 74, said he had been told he faced 350 lashes in public after serving a year behind bars for being caught with home-made wine.
Production and consumption of alcohol are banned in Saudi Arabia.
Cameron wrote to the Saudi government about Andree’s case earlier this month and his spokeswoman had called the case “extremely concerning”.
Andree’s son Simon said he feared the grandfather of seven would not survive a flogging.
Andree worked in Saudi Arabia’s oil industry for 25 years.
The move comes as Britain’s traditionally close ties with Saudi Arabia come under increasing scrutiny over its human rights record.
Earlier this month, the British government abandoned a bid to provide training to the Saudi penal system, a contract potentially worth USD 9 million amid reports of a split between ministers.
The leader of the main opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn has been putting pressure on the government to intervene in another case, that of pro-democracy activist Mohammed al-Nimr, who faces execution.