British teacher released after five years in Yemen jail on spy charges

British teacher, 30, held for five years on spy charges in Yemen has been by released and will return home to UK

  • A British man has been released from a Yemen prison after more than five years
  • Luke Symons, 30, was arrested in 2017 on suspicions of being a spy for the UK
  • However he was never charged with any crime and kept in solitary confinement

A British man who had been unlawfully detained in Yemen since 2017 has been released and will return to the UK to see his family.

Luke Symons, who who was in Yemen working as a teacher while studying Islam, was arrested aged 25 because he had a UK passport, and was accused of spying according to his family.

Symons, originally from Cardiff, was detained by Houthi authorities in the capital Sanaa at a security checkpoint in the southwestern city of Ta’iz on April 4 2017. 

The Briton had been held in squalid conditions in solitary confinement in a prison in Sanaa, with his family saying that early on he was tortured to make him ‘confess’ to being a spy.

The Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, issued a statement after Mr Symons was freed from detention by the Houthis in Yemen. 

Luke Symons (pictured) ,30, from Cardiff, was released from prison in Yemen after being arrested in 2017  on suspicion of spying, but he was never charged with a crime

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was pleased about Luke Symons’ release and thanked the staff members that helped with the process

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: ‘I am pleased that Luke Symons, who was unlawfully detained, without charge or trial since 2017 in Yemen, has been released. Luke was 25 when he was unlawfully detained by the Houthis. His son was only a few months old at the time.

‘He was allegedly mistreated, in solitary confinement, and refused visits by his family.

‘He has been flown to Muscat and soon he will be reunited with his family in the UK.

‘We thank our Omani and Saudi partners for their support in securing his release.

‘I pay tribute to our excellent staff for their hard work in returning Luke home.’

Luke’s MP Kevin Brennan tweeted: ‘This is terrific news – after 5 years finally my constituent Luke Symons has been released from captivity – thanks to all at the FCDO and most of all to Luke’s family for their tireless campaigning.’

Luke Symons, from Cardiff, moved to Yemen after meeting his wife Massir in 2012

Luke and his  family have connections with Yemen, and in 2012 he travelled to the country where he met and married his wife, a Yemeni national.

When the civil war in Yemen began, the couple tried to flee the country by travelling to Djibouti, but the pair were effectively forced back to Yemen by the Houthi-run Yemeni embassy, according to Amnesty.org.

Symons and his wife, who was then heavily pregnant, were threatened with detention in a desert refugee camp as well as suffering physical threats.

The couple sought help from the UK authorities in neighbouring Ethiopia, however, the UK authorities would not issue Symons’ wife with a travel visa and the couple reluctantly returned to Yemen.

Symons was stopped and arrested soon after their return.

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