British Navy George Cross war hero thrown in Dubai jail after being accused of spying | World | News

A highly-decorated Royal Navy hero was arrested and thrown in jail in Dubai after being accused of spying.

It was revealed yesterday that the Royal Marine was kept in an unsanitary Dubai prison after being accused of spying but has been told very little about the case against him. 

Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, 40, was awarded the George Cross after jumping on a Taliban grenade in 2008 in Afghanistan to save his four colleagues.

He survived thanks to his body armour repelling the force of the blast. The explosion left him bleeding from the nose and almost deaf, but he continued with his patrol. 

The George Cross is the highest award bestowed by the British government for non-operational gallantry or gallantry not in the presence of an enemy, introduced in 1940. Only 416 in total have been awarded, including three collective awards. 

After leaving the Corps, he became a security consultant and has lived in Dubai since 2014, until he was suddenly arrested in November last year. He was officially accused of “intentionally and illegally accessing a telecommunications network,” by Dubai officials. 

They have not, however, declared who they claim he spied on, or who he supposedly worked for, The Times said. Officials reportedly obtained an electronic device, which Croucher claimed was used in his job, after obtaining a warrant to search where he was living. 

He was forced to sleep on the floor while in prison as it was so overcrowded, according to a close friend who added he was also made to eat a “primitive meal of rice and chicken twice a day with very unsanitary amenities”. They also claimed he was interrogated by Dubai’s Criminal Investigation Department for six hours, being questioned about his role within the UK’s Ministry of Defence and intelligence services. 

Croucher was eventually released from prison after four days but because his phone, passport and internet banking access device were confiscated, he is now stuck in Dubai with no money. He has been required to report to the Al Barsha police station until 27th March, while being consistently told his situation would be resolved “next week”.

“We’re shocked at the circumstances which have played out. He was only due to be away for a couple of weeks. We don’t understand why it is taking so long to process the case,” said his family from Solihull in the West Midlands. 

“We believe the case to be made up and ridiculous. The Foreign Office has been useless, often making things worse and telling him his case has been formally concluded.

“This has caused our family immense stress and we just hope this can be concluded at the earliest opportunity.”

Croucher’s friend added that, unable to earn and unable to leave, his family are left waiting with no answers or support. 

Croucher recalled later: “I thought, ‘I’ve set this bloody thing off and I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect the others”. 

“I figured that if I could keep my torso and head intact I’d probably survive any other injuries – although I fully expected to lose a limb.”

“We are supporting a British man in the UAE and are in contact with the local authorities,” a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said.

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