After having been arrested for possession of home-made wine in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in August 2014, Karl Andree has now been promised a release from prison by the Saudi government.
In a country where alcohol is illegal, Andree, who spent several years living in the country, was purported to be punished with more than 300 lashes for breaking the law. His family members in the UK and USA feared that the cancer survivor and asthmatic would not survive this measure.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is currently in the country to discuss the armed conflict in Syria and other emerging dangers of the Gulf region. The Foreign Office issued a statement which also stated that Hammond would “[…]raise consular cases, including current Saudi judicial cases.”
Hammond was grateful to all Saudi officials who were part of the negotiation on behalf of Andree, after Prime Minister David Cameron was lobbied to raise the issue after being the target of a 250.000 strong petition on Change.org
— Change.org UK (@UKChange) October 28, 2015
Cameron also expressed gratitude on Twitter today about the news
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) October 28, 2015
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the UK, previously was critical of the British stance toward his country as he described what he saw as an “alarming change” in attitude. He further clarified Saudi Arabia would “not be lectured to by anyone” in the wake of a cancelled deal with Britain to train Saudi prison staff after human rights concerns were raised.
Andree’s family is glad to have him back, especially in light of what they viewed as harsh and unjust punishment. Simon Andree, the creator of the petition to the PM said that “[going public] was never about causing offence [to Saudi Arabia] – we just wanted our father back because he had served his time.” Andree is due to return to the UK where he will be joining his wife Verity after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.