A British tourist who was detained in Qatar after airport officials found a £10 cannabis grinder on him during a stop-over 11 months ago has been arrested in Corfu and could be extradited back to the UAE.
Conor Howard, 27, was stopped last October on his way back to the UK from Australia when he was found with the item – which he says he bought for a friend as a joke.
The project manager from Tranent, Eat Lothian, spent six hours in a cell before returning home, and thought no more of his brush with Middle Eastern authorities.
But Mr Howard was unaware he has been placed on an international most wanted list and has now been arrested in Greece after arriving to join his parents on holiday.
Conor Howard, 27, stopped last October on his way back to the UK from Australia when he was found with the item – which he says he bought for a friend as a joke
Mr Howard is now being held in a Greek prison with the possibility of being extradited to Qatar to face drugs charges.
His terrified parents Adele, 53, and Robert Young, 55, are being supported by Radha Stirling, of Detained in Dubai, who is representing him.
Local lawyers are preparing a bail request for their son today.
His father said: ‘We are emotional, stressed, and my anxiety levels are through the roof.
The project manager from Tranent, Eat Lothian, spent six hours in a cell before returning home, and thought no more of his brush with Middle Eastern authorities
‘We are just having to support each other in this really difficult time.
‘It is crazy the lack of support we have received from the British Embassy in Greece and the language barrier involving lawyers is so difficult.
‘The embassy gave us a list of Qatari lawyers to contact who can speak English if he is extradited but none of them have got back to us and we have not been filled with confidence.
‘But that said so many local people are trying to help us by taking us up and down to the court and jail.
‘The waiting game in between is so painful and the no answers is so difficult. At least in Britain they could scream back at us in the same language.’
Lawyer Radha Stirling said: ‘Upon flying to Greece to visit family this past weekend, Greek authorities were alerted of the arrest warrant, and threw Conor in jail.
‘He has a bail hearing later today, but it appears that Conor is to face extradition proceedings that might see him deported to Qatar to face charges – charges for which Qatar already released him last year.
‘Obviously, Conor has not committed a crime, and that was even determined to be the case at the time of his initial detention.
‘It is absurd that Qatar would issue an arrest warrant for an individual they themselves released from custody.’
Mr Howard’s terrified parents Adele, 53, and Robert Young, 55, are being supported by Radha Stirling, of Detained in Dubai, who is representing him
A GoFundMe page set up by Mr Howard’s friends to pay for legal assistance has already raised more than £9,500.
One, Kyle Williams, 27, also from East Lothian, said: ‘It is hard to describe it and it is so surreal.
‘Conor is just a standard everyday guy and this just shows it could have happened to anybody.
‘He’s not a troublemaker or a drug smuggler, nothing like this happens to us and we are not used to it. He is just one of the boys.
‘No one can believe it back home in East Lothian, the whole community has already come together and that has been brilliant. Hopefully, we can get him home soon.’
Kenny MacAskill, MP for East Lothian, said: ‘This is an abuse of a vital legal process and must be opposed.
‘I will be asking the Foreign Secretary to intervene as a matter of urgency so that Conor can come home.’
The Foreign Office said: ‘Our staff are in contact with a British man and his family following his arrest in Corfu, and are in touch with the Greek authorities.’
A view of Corfu airport, where Mr Howard was detained on an international arrest warrant