British man sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Dubai court for having CBD oil

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“It broke us. It completely broke us,” said the mother of24-year-old Englishman Billy Hurd who was sentenced to 25 years in prison this month because the police found four small bottles of CBD oil in his car.

Never mind that the oil is legal in the UK, it’s likely the CBD wasn’t even his. Billy had been in the United Arab Emirates the past two years teaching soccer to youth. On the day in in question he dropped off a friend at the Dubai airport – and it seems the friend forgot his CBD in Billy’s car.

This is supported by (1) the authorities in Dubai learned of the CBD because they intercepted a social media message from the friend to Billy about it (2) when approached by the police Billy willingly consented to a search of his car (3) the bottles were examined for his prints and none were found, and (4) Billy was drug screened and tested negative – significant because cannabis metabolites can be detected for up to a month after use.

Nevertheless, Billy was charged with possession of CBD for the purpose of trafficking – because there were four bottles – largely on the strength of his “confession.” According to attorney Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai, a legal support group working in the UAE, Billy signed a confession written in Arabic (he doesn’t speak it) because he was promised that if he signed the document he would get out of jail.

Stirling also said the January trial took all of 15 minutes; only the prosecution was allowed to present evidence; when they rested the court pronounced the guilty verdict; and, the “confession” was what did Billy in.

Billy’s appeal will be heard in 10 days, on Nov. 30th. But according to Stirling, absent UK diplomatic pressure the proceeding is likely to be as one-sided as the trial. In fact, UAE’s reputation for forced confessions, unfair trials, and the risk of Human Rights violations are why Stirling said UK courts won’t extradite people to the Emirates.

So given all this, Britain’s Foreign Office is on the case, right? Attorney Radha Stirling:

What we see with the Foreign Office is that they’ve become less and less inclined to assist British nationals as the UAE becomes a stronger trade partner. So there is quite a conflict of interest that can result in innocent victims like Billy being locked up for extremely lengthy periods of time.

ITV reached out to the Foreign Office who issued the following statement: “We are giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE.”

Neither Billy, his family, nor his lawyers have heard from the British government.

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