Andrew Neal a former British soldier with PTSD held in Dubai 'accused of selling drugs'

A former British soldier recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is being detained in the United Arab Emirates after being accused of selling drugs, despite the accuser later withdrawing his statement, it is claimed.

Andrew Neal, 44, who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, is said to have been held in Dubai for more than four months after being accused of selling drugs, a charge he denies, according to a legal advocacy group.

Human rights group Detained in Dubai, which is representing the Briton's family, said on Wednesday the person who accused Mr Neal of selling drugs had retracted his statement.

But the British ex-military dog trainer and handler, who moved to Dubai in 2015 and who is said to have 17 medals, a commendation and served in the army for more than 20 years, remains behind bars.

The father-of-two, who was born in Nottingham, was diagnosed with PTSD on his most recent deployment to Afghanistan, according to Detained in Dubai.

Andrew Neal, 44, was born in Nottingham. Credit: Detained in Dubai

Radha Stirling, the chief executive of the organisation, has appealed to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Mark Spencer, the Conservative MP for Sherwood, for help.

She said: "The police not only failed to competently investigate the case, but have locked up an innocent British family man for over four months.

"We are calling on the support of Jeremy Hunt and Mark Spencer to stand up for Andy Neal, a man who has dedicated much of his life to supporting the British forces abroad."

Mr Neal has a six-year-old daughter and a son, aged two. Credit: Detained in Dubai

Mr Neal was allegedly told someone had identified him as having sold drugs to them, but the former soldier said he was innocent, the advocacy group reported.

The human rights group claim: "The officers punched Neal twice in the stomach, pinning him against the wall by his neck then sitting him on a chair in the middle of the bedroom, telling him 'you need to cooperate or you will be going away to prison for 10 years'.

"Andy tried to explain that he was cooperating when officers said 'we know you’ve been handling drugs' to which he replied 'I don’t have anything to do with drugs'."

The police allegedly also threatened to take Mr Neal's children away on the same night.

Detained in Dubai added that the former soldier was taken to the al-Barsha police station.

Mr Neal's wife, a teacher, whose full name has not been disclosed, was only allowed to visit Mr Neal once a week, according to the human rights group.

The couple have a six-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son.

"The police drew up a statement in Arabic and forced Andy to sign it by way of his fingerprint, and when Andy complained that he had no idea what was written, the interrogator said 'exactly what you said'," Detained in Dubai claims.

The former soldier was taken to the al-Barsha police station. Credit: Detained in Dubai

They continued that Mr Neal and his wife subsequently found out "the document was a confession that he purchased drugs" from one man and sold them to another, who then accused Mr Neal of selling them to him.

It is claimed a meeting was arranged with Mr Neal's alleged accuser on January 23 in which the man who is said to have accused Mr Neal is said to have denied that he did so.

Detained in Dubai said the alleged accuser's statement was then officially retracted, but Mr Neal remains behind bars.

The group said: "No drugs were found in Andy's possession and all tests had returned negative."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: "We are providing assistance to a British man after his arrest in Dubai and are in touch with his family and the UAE authorities."