By Staff writer
Three men are being held at Fujairah prison after they were arrested for taking photographs near an airport and using a telescope
Three British plane spotters have been arrested in the UAE over
allegations of committing a security offense.
Conrad Clitheroe, 54, Gary Cooper, 45, and Neil Munro were reportedly
taking notes near Fujairah Airport, 130km from Dubai.
They were arrested on February 22 due to fears over national security
and have reportedly been in a prison cell in Dubai for the past ten days.
Local police have been quoted in press reports as saying Clitheroe and
Cooper – both from Stockport, Greater Manchester – and UAE expat Munro had been
taking photographs near an airport and using a telescope. The group attracted
suspicion and were taken to a police station for questioning.
Ciltheroe and Cooper were due to fly home on the day they were arrested.
According to press reports they were initially told they would be released but
the matter has been escalated to one of national security.
It is understood the men are being held at Fujairah prison, Sky News
Clitheroe’s wife Valerie reportedly told UK newspaper the Manchester
Evening News that her husband has a serious heart condition.
“I'm so worried,” she said. “The whole family is devastated and we just
feel so helpless. He has a serious heart problem and it took days before he saw
a doctor [in Dubai] and even now I don’t know if they have given him the right
“I just want him to come home. I haven't been without him for longer
than four nights ever. We all want him home. There are concrete beds, no change
of clothes, no soap for five days. They had some blankets but those were stolen
by other inmates.
“I can’t believe this is happening. He’s such a lovely guy who wouldn't
harm a fly. He would never do anything to put himself in this situation.”
Radha Sterling, founder of UK based charity Detained in Dubai, told
Sky News on Monday: “All three friends have a shared hobby of plane spotting
and were keen to see Fujairah airport, where many older and rarer aircrafts can
“The practice is legal in the UAE though not widely understood nor
appreciated by authorities.”
A statement from UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can
confirm the arrest of three British nationals in the United Arab Emirates on 22
February and we are providing consular assistance.”
There are times when the UAE is its own worst enemy. All the money spent on mega projects and tourist promotions is easily undone by overly zealous police work, misunderstanding, and unnecessary arrests.
The three arrested planespotters are being held at Fujairah prison on suspicion of breaching â€œnational securityâ€, according to the charity Detained in Dubai, which has now intervened and is seeking the trioâ€™s release.
There really is little to see at Fujairah airport except some old, stored, rust buckets sitting on the tarmac gathering dust.
Conrad Clitheroe is one of the three men arrested - it is very obvious from his facebook page that he is a serious â€ª#â€Žavgeekâ€¬ -
Given the UAE's promotion of, and economic dependence on, its aviation industry the UAE would be well-served by making every effort to welcome and host aviation hobbyists.
Sending these three guys home immediately would make a great deal of good sense
â€œThe practice is legal in the UAE though not widely understood nor appreciated by authorities.â€
Plane spotter want to see aircraft - not destroy them! Practicing this global hobby is even tolerated, if not accepted, in the security-phobic USA - including the use od tele-lenses.
So get the UAE security forces a training. BTW: plane spotters travel a LOT, spending a LOT of money in foreign countries.
I have worked with Conrad and gary about 20 yrs ago and they were keen plane spotters then.These are two of the most genuine,kind hearted gentleman that I have jnown and would never put themselves or others in a predicament. This is ridiculous just send them home.
I can see and understand why they were arrested. With even our schools under threat from attack, any suspicious behavior around an airports should be closely monitored.
Thank you UAE police/security for trying to keep us all safe in these difficult times.
HOWEVER .... I don't see why thy are still in a cell 10 days later though, as it would seem they are indeed misguided and harmless hobbyists. Surely the British authorities could clear this up quickly? or is it red tape that is keeping then inside, in which case any good they have intended is completely undone.