UK prime minister David Cameron is seeking the release of Karl Andree, a 74-year-old British man who was arrested last year in Saudi Arabia for making homemade wine, who faces the prospect of 360 lashes as punishment.
The controversy comes as Saudi Arabia has come under fire for preparing to crucify a 21-year-old activist, and for allegedly securing its place on an influential human rights panel through a secret deal with the United Kingdom. The UK also on Tuesday canceled a £6 million ($9 million) contract to train Saudi prison staff, raising fears that the Saudis could flog Andree as a reprisal.
Andree has already completed a one-year prison sentence since he was caught by Saudi religious police carrying homemade alcohol in his car last August. The production, importation, and consumption of alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia, whose human rights laws and harsh sentences are under increasing scrutiny.
According to Andree’s daughter, Kirsten Piroth, her family was “led to believe” he would be released without receiving any lashes, but now there “seems to be some question mark” over that matter. Andree has a range of health problems, including several types of cancer, asthma, and dementia. Andree’s daughter has argued her father has already “paid for what he did.”