Luke Symons, a 29-year-old British national, arbitrarily detained by the Huthi de facto authorities for more than four years in Sanaa, Yemen, has been moved to solitary confinement. His health condition is deteriorating. He was detained on April 4, 2017, by the Huthis at a security checkpoint in Ta’iz, a city in southwestern Yemen, for what appears to be no more than possessing a British passport. To date, he has not been charged nor has he appeared before a judge. Amnesty International urges the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately release Luke Symons. Pending his release, they must ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that he has legal representation, regular access to his family, and adequate medical care.
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Deputy Chief of Mission Mohammed Al-Hadhrami
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
2319 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 965 4760 I Fax: 202 337 2017
Email: [email protected]
Dear Mohamed Abdelsalam,
British national Luke Symons
, arbitrarily detained by the Huthi de facto authorities since April 4, 2017 in Sanaa, Yemen, has been moved to solitary confinement. His health condition is deteriorating. He was arrested at a security checkpoint in Ta’iz, a city in southwestern Yemen, on the grounds that he possessed a UK passport. To date, Luke Symons has not been charged nor has he appeared before a judge.
According to two of his relatives Amnesty International spoke with, Luke Symons has been accused of espionage for the British government. However, he has not been formally charged to date. Additionally, Amnesty International examined a release order issued on December 2, 2018, by the Sana’a-based Supreme Political Council of Yemen, the executive body set up by the Huthis, demanding the release of Luke Symons for lack of evidence against him.
According to Luke Symons’ family, he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated during interrogation, in a bid to make him “confess” to being a spy. As a result of beatings in 2018, his arm was broken. More recently, he has also suffered from a stomach problem and was denied access to medical care, despite his repeated requests.
During his last phone call with his family in December 2021, Luke Symons expressed that his detention conditions were having a detrimental impact on his physical and mental health. Also, his wife, who was able to visit him in early January 2022, expressed deep concern about his deteriorating physical and mental health.
He is currently held in solitary confinement in a prison in Sanaa, Yemen. Under International law, solitary confinement is prohibited for pre-trial detainees and can amount to torture for detainees suffering from mental distress.
We urge the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately release Luke Symons, unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence. Pending his release, they must ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that he has legal representation, regular access to his family, and adequate medical care.