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Yemen: Arbitrarily Detained British National Released

On 24 April, the Huthi de facto authorities released 30-year-old British national Luke Symons along with 13 other foreign detainees. Luke Symons was arbitrarily detained on 4 April 2017 by the Huthis at a security checkpoint in Ta’iz, a city in southwestern Yemen, on the grounds that he “possessed a British passport.” He spent five years in detention without charge or trial.


Luke Symons, a British national arbitrarily detained by the Huthi de facto authorities for more than five years in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, was released on 24 April.

On 4 April 2017 he was arbitrarily arrested at a security checkpoint in Ta’iz, a city in southwestern Yemen, on the grounds that he possessed a UK passport. He was not charged, nor did he at any point during his five-year detention appear before a judge.

Two of Luke Symons relatives told Amnesty International that the Huthi de facto authorities had accused him of espionage for the British government, however, they did not formally charge him nor bring any evidence of such a charge. Amnesty International examined a release order issued on 2 December 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.

The Huthi de facto authorities allegedly tortured and otherwise ill-treated Luke Symons during his interrogations, in a bid to make him “confess” to being a spy, and held him in solitary confinement for the last four months of his detention.

On 24 April, the Omani Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that it had facilitated the release of 14 foreigners, including Luke Symons, who were detained by the Huthi de facto authorities in Yemen and transferred them from Sanaa to the Omani capital Muscat on 24 April.

Luke Symons’ release followed sustained campaigning by Luke Symons’ family, his local UK Member of Parliament representative, and Amnesty International. In a message to Amnesty International, Luke Symons’ grandfather and wife thanked the movement for campaigning for Luke Symons’ release.


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