Anybody heard about this story?

By daniele


British airline boss is locked in solitary for 25 days after arrest for 'spying' in Middle East
Last updated at 12:00 AM on 27th July 2008

Detained: Ian Heywood cannot leave Qatar until prosecutors decide whether or not to charge him

A former British Airways executive was kept in solitary confinement for 25 days after being arrested in the Middle East for alleged industrial espionage.

Ian Heywood, 47, was heading off for a weekend break in Bahrain with a group of colleagues when he was seized by police as he was about to board a flight at Doha airport in the Gulf state of Qatar.

He was taken to an unknown location – thought to have been a police station – where he was detained in a cell for nearly a month.

Last night the Foreign Office in London admitted that Qatari officials had verbally confirmed his arrest to them after eight days – but they did not tell his distraught family of his whereabouts for another fortnight until they got ‘official confirmation’.

Now the married father of two is free on bail but cannot leave Qatar until state prosecutors decide whether or not to charge him.

Mr Heywood’s wife Gill, 51, daughter Charlotte, 16, and 11-year-old son Harry flew out from London to Doha yesterday, hoping that the authorities would drop proceedings and allow them to bring him home.

As she left the family home in Staines, Middlesex, a tearful Mrs Heywood said they had all endured a ‘nightmare’ since her husband was arrested.

‘I just want him back,’ she said. ‘This has been so distressing for the whole family.

'My little one has kept it so much to himself but last night he said, “I just want my dad back”.’

Another member of Mr Heywood’s family said: ‘Ian is just so frightened and he’s not a guy that scares easily.’

Mr Heywood, who worked for BA for 26 years, joined Qatar Airways in May last year as vice-president of global sales and distribution but was ‘headhunted’ by rival British airline BMI to be their commercial director.

He was due to start there at the end of May. He was working out his notice when he was arrested on May 1.

His MP, Tory Philip Hammond, who is campaigning on his behalf, said: ‘This all started with a commercial dispute that probably has something to do with him leaving Qatar Airways.

'The next thing, he was being accused of taking secret information from Qatar Airways with him.

‘But why has a UK citizen been held without charge for 90 days in Doha? Either charge him or let him go.’

Mr Heywood’s ordeal began when he was seized as he was heading to Bahrain for the weekend with his sales team as a farewell treat.

'Ian's so frightened, and he doesn't scare easily'

Where he was taken still remains unclear and at the time he had no idea why he had been apprehended.

His colleagues continued with their weekend trip but on their return, realising that Mr Heywood was still being held, contacted his family.

On May 5 Mr Heywood was finally allowed to phone home to say: ‘I’ve been arrested and I’m all right. I just don’t know where I am.’

His wife wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband asking for help.

Downing Street officials replied that the request had been passed on to the Foreign Office.

Mr Heywood had been locked up for 25 days before British consular staff gained access to him and within three days he was freed on bail but told he could not leave the country.

He has told friends: ‘I’m totally innocent. I have done nothing wrong.’

He believes his supposed crime is based on an allegation of ‘breach of contract’ with Qatar Airways.

By coincidence, on Thursday last week Gordon Brown met Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, who is also chairman of Qatar Airways, for routine diplomatic talks but No10 refused to say whether Mr Heywood’s case was discussed.

Qatar Airways said they did not wish to comment and the Qatar Embassy in London failed to return a written request for information.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement: ‘The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Prime Minister’s Office are both aware of the case and have been in discussion.’

By dweller• 13 years 11 months ago.

I wonder if he had "released" any information considered confidential by QA?

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