An American tourist is jailed for years in Dubai after doctors called the police when they tested his blood and found cannabis – which he legally smoked before entering the country.
Peter Clark, 51, from Las Vegas flew to Dubai for a few days on February 21st to check out some professional recording studios.
After he developed pancreatitis, he was then admitted to the hospital for emergency treatment.
Before he was released, the hospital took a urine sample to test for drugs and found traces of hashish – which he had smoked long before he left the United States.
Doctors then reported it to the police, who went to the hospital to charge Peter, who was still in a sleepy state and had not been able to eat or drink since he was admitted.
On March 3, Peter was handcuffed and taken to Al Barsha Police Station, where he was put in a detention cell with three other men.
Peter suffered from hyperglycemia and respiratory alkalosis and had blood sugar levels that were more than ten times higher than those caused by pancreatitis.
He was then taken to an anti-narcotic drug ward and thrown in a dirty cell with at least ten other men arrested for drug possession.
He said he did not understand why he was detained because he did not bring drugs to the UAE, buy or use drugs in Dubai.
On March 6th, Peter was released from his cell and told to return to his hotel and wait for their contact.
Over a month later, Peter is still in Dubai and without intervention, saying he was in jail years ago.
Peter said: “ I was absolutely stunned to learn that I was accused of having marijuana residues in my system.
“ I smoked it legally at home long before I even got on a plane.
“ I knew about the country’s tough drug laws, but I never thought for a moment that I might be jailed for something I did in America.
“ I’ve tried explaining to the police and being as cooperative as possible, but I’m just getting thrown through the system.
” When I went to the hospital, my time in Dubai was ruined, but I didn’t know that this was just the beginning of the nightmare. “
He added, “I’ve lost a ton of weight. No shower, no food, nothing to drink since I’ve been here. No sleep.”
Radha Stirling, Founder of Detained in Dubai, is representing Mr. Clark.
She says visitors to the UAE who have legally used hashish / marijuana in their own country can be arrested for having hashish in their blood.
Radha said: “The arbitrary enforcement of laws by the UAE and the lack of predictable legal outcomes mean that Peter may face years of imprisonment for legally smoking marijuana.”
” Even if found innocent, he can be dragged through a slow and costly legal process.
“Visitors to Dubai planning a getaway can get caught up in a system that can easily cost them $ 50,000 to $ 100,000 in hotels and legal fees, but some results are even worse.
” Corrupt police informants have been used by prosecutors to improve possession cases on drug trafficking cases that are being sentenced to life imprisonment.
“The UAE creates the illusion that it is a modern party venue and while visitors accept that certain behaviors are illegal, it is very easy to get confused if the police just happen to be enforcing the law.
” On the one hand, prostitution, homosexuality and indecent behavior are illegal, and yet they are seen more obviously in Dubai than in most other world cities.
” It’s easy to see how visitors might believe anything is possible and the police will turn a blind eye.
“The UAE should not prosecute visitors for acts outside their country. Peter didn’t commit any real crime in Dubai.
” It is clear that the UAE needs to change the technical wording of its drug laws to ensure that foreigners are not unnecessarily persecuted.
“We saw foreigners arrested for drugs outside the UAE, claims of almost undetectable marijuana dust on the floor of objects, poppy seeds from a bun consumed at the airport, pharmaceutical and prescription drugs, and even a glass of wine on board Emirates Airlines .
” The arrest of people for smoking marijuana in their own country weeks before they even entered the UAE is an unfair persecution of tourists who behaved themselves well in Dubai.
“ The US State Department needs to revise travel warnings to Americans who could be arbitrarily detained.
“It is imperative that the US Embassy get involved and speak to its counterparts in the UAE field office.
” The UAE and the US have close diplomatic ties and the UAE is America’s closest ally in the Middle East. Relations were strained, however, after the UAE led an attack on a US-flagged yacht, violations of Iranian sanctions by Ras Al Khaimah and the hacking of US nationals.
“The United States needs to ensure that citizens visiting the Emirates are protected from legal abuse.”