Wife fears for Briton held in Saudi jail

The wife of a Briton languishing in a Saudi prison today spoke of her fears as police continued to question him and four others after a clampdown on alcohol smuggling.

Jean Yates said she had received no information since husband Ron, 54, was arrested weeks ago.

He is among five Britons being held in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, where, the Foreign Office said, police have told British officials they are being investigated for offences related to alcohol - which is banned in Saudi under Islamic law. Diplomats have so far been denied access to two of them.

The arrests have also been linked to the recent spate of bombings in Saudi that claimed the life of one Briton and injured three others.

Mrs Yates said she had no idea why her husband was being held in Saudi.

Speaking from her home in Bolton, Greater Manchester, she said she first found out her husband was in jail more than three weeks ago but has not been told why.

"It's a closed country and I am just trying not to antagonise them," she said. "All I want is my husband home as soon as possible and the more fuss there is the worse it will be for him.

Hopefully he will be home soon, but we'll just have to wait and see. It's out of my hands."

Another of those being held, David Mornin, is originally from Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland but has lived in Saudi Arabia for the past 16 years, daughter Julie said today.

Miss Mornin, from Greenock, said: "I haven't seen him since he left the country. Sixteen years is a long time and to be honest, I haven't heard anything about what's actually happening."

The other three arrested men were unofficially named as Paul Moss, Ken Hartley and Kelvin Hawkins. No formal charges have been made against any of them.

Saudi police are understood to be investigating possible links between the bootleg alcohol trade and recent bomb attacks.

The Foreign Office said it had not been informed of this aspect but a diplomatic source said: "If the bombings are being linked to the illegal alcohol trade, and the arrests are linked to the illegal alcohol trade, then it could well be the case that the arrests are linked to the bombings."

British officials have been allowed to see Mr Yates, Mr Mornin and Mr Hawkins - who said they were being well treated - and have asked for access to the other two.

Officials have been told they can see Mr Moss and Mr Hartley after January 6, when a Saudi public holiday ends, but are pressing for earlier access.

Two of the men were arrested on December 1 and two a week later on December 8. Mr Yates was understood to have been detained earlier and is not being investigated as part of the same group.

Three bomb attacks against British citizens in November and December killed one Briton and injured three others.

Christopher Rodway, 47, a hospital engineer from Gloucestershire, died when his car was blasted apart in Riyadh on November 17.

Six days later two British men and a woman were injured in another car bombing in the capital, and in December Coca-Cola manager David Brown suffered serious facial injuries in a blast in the eastern town of al-Khobar.

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