Body of British aid worker Paul Urey held by Russian separatists ‘shows signs of torture’

Paul Urey is believed to have been detained in April before his death was confirmed in July. Credit: Family

The body of a British aid worker who reportedly died while being detained by pro-Russia separatists shows signs of "possible unspeakable torture", it has been claimed.

Paul Urey, 45, died in captivity in Ukraine in July after being branded a 'mercenary'.

It was initially claimed by the human rights Ombudsperson for the Moscow-supported leadership in Donetsk, the dad from Leyland in Lancashire, had died of chronic illness and stress.

“From our side, he was given the necessary medical assistance despite the grave crimes he committed,” ombudsperson Daria Morozova added.

But, after the dad of four's body was returned to the Ukrainian government, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said it showed "signs of possible unspeakable torture".

He wrote on Twitter: “Russians have returned the body of a British humanitarian worker Paul Urie [sic] whom they captured in April and reported dead due to “illnesses” and “stress” in July. With signs of possible unspeakable torture.

“Detaining and torturing civilians is barbarism and a heinous war crime.

“I express my deepest condolences to relatives and close ones of Paul Urie [sic]. He was a brave man who dedicated himself to saving people. Ukraine will never forget him and his deeds.

“We will identify perpetrators of this crime and hold them to account. They won’t escape justice.”

Following the news, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “We are disturbed by reports that aid worker Paul Urey may have been tortured in detention.

"It is essential that we see the results of a full post-mortem as soon as possible.

"Our thoughts are with Paul Urey’s family at this distressing time.”

Paul Urey with his daughter Chelsea.

Following the news of his death, Mr Urey’s mother Linda Urey expressed her anger, branding the separatists “murderers”, and asking: “Why did you let him die?”

Russian ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin was summoned to the Foreign Office to face questioning over what happened to Mr Urey, who was detained near the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia in April.

Liz Truss, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, said she was “shocked” by reports of Mr Urey’s death.

“Russia must bear the full responsibility for this,” she said in a statement.

“Paul Urey was captured while undertaking humanitarian work. He was in Ukraine to try and help the Ukrainian people in the face of the unprovoked Russian invasion.

“The Russian government and its proxies are continuing to commit atrocities. Those responsible will be held to accountable. My thoughts are with Mr Urey’s family and friends at this horrendous time.”

Ms Urey said she was “truly angry” in a post on Facebook.

She said her son had been taken from her at birth and, after finding her, he had been taken from her again.

“Cruel cruel world,” she added.

Russian ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Credit: James Manning/PA

His family, including two of his daughters Chelsea and Courtney are trying to raise enough money to bring his body home from Ukraine.

It could cost up to £10,000 to repatriate his body and bring Mr Urey home - and a GoFundMe page to try and raise the money has been started.

Speaking at the time of his capture, Ms Urey told Russian forces he was "not the man you think he is".

She added she had pleaded with him not to go, but: "He told me, 'I can’t sit there mum and watch people dying because they’re hungry, they’re scared, he said I’ve seen people where they’re ducking every time there’s a noise, I can’t live with myself'."

In April, the Presidium Network, a non-profit group, said Mr Urey and fellow Briton Dylan Healey had been captured at a checkpoint south of the city in south-east Ukraine.

Mr Urey, who was born in 1977 and was from Manchester, and Mr Healey, born in 2000 and from Cambridgeshire, travelled to Ukraine of their own accord, the organisation said.

They were not working for the Presidium Network, which helps to get aid into Kyiv.

The organisation said the pair went missing while driving to help a woman and two children.

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