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Flogging reprieve grandfather Karl Andree 'humbled' by support

Published 11/11/2015

Karl Andree has returned to the UK after being released from Saudi custody
Karl Andree has returned to the UK after being released from Saudi custody

A British grandfather sentenced to a flogging for breaking Saudi Arabia's strict anti-alcohol laws said he is "humbled" after being reunited with his family in the UK.

Karl Andree, 74, was threatened with a public lashing after he was caught with home-made wine in Jeddah.

He was put on a plane to Britain on Tuesday night after being freed from a Saudi prison, where he had been locked up since August last year.

Speaking after a tearful reunion with his family, the grandfather-of-seven said he is looking forward to "rebuilding my life".

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for such incredible support. Who knows if I would have got out of the Saudi jail or escaped 378 lashes in a public flogging without this backing?" he told The Sun.

"I am overwhelmed by the support and am grateful to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Government for stepping in.

"I am truly humbled and will never forget the love and support of so many people in getting me home."

Mr Andree's flogging sentence was dropped after his family launched a campaign for his release on compassionate grounds because his wife Verity is dying of Alzheimer's and is in Britain receiving care.

He had lived in the Middle East for the last 25 years, having worked in the oil industry.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: "Karl Andree was released from prison hours after my visit to Riyadh on October 28.

"I'm pleased that he has returned home to be reunited with his family, bringing to an end an extremely tough time for him and his family.

"I'm grateful to the Saudi Arabian government for their efforts in ensuring this positive outcome, following our discussions during my visit.

"It's through the strength and breadth of the relationship between our nations that we have been able to overcome a difficult issue like this."

More than 230,000 people signed an online petition calling for the Prime Minister to intervene to stop Mr Andree - who has battled cancer and suffers from asthma - from facing the lashings.

Three of his grandchildren, Lucy, 12, Celia, 10, and Edward, nine, also appealed to David Cameron in a video message in which they said their grandfather was a "really old man" and "no human deserves to be treated like this".

Maya Foa, of human rights organisation Reprieve, described Mr Andree's release as a "relief" but insisted the UK Government should do more to combat "terrible abuses" in Saudi.

"It's extremely welcome that Karl Andree is finally to return to his family in the UK - his release will come as a huge relief to his loved ones," she said.

"But while the Saudi authorities have thankfully relented in his case, we must remember that terrible abuses continue.

"Executions have doubled in Saudi Arabia since last year, and the authorities are still planning to execute juveniles like Ali al Nimr for attending protests.

"As a close ally, the UK must press the Saudis to change course before more lives are lost."

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