British former naval officer held in Dubai on spying charges

British former naval officer held in Dubai on spying charges
Matt Croucher, who had received George Cross – Britain's highest award for gallantry – for his service in Afghanistan in 2008, was arrested in November.
2 min read
A former British Royal Marine has been held in Dubai for seven months, a newspaper has reported [Muhammad Owais Khan/Getty-file photo]

Matt Croucher, a former British Royal Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been held in Dubai for seven months on spying charges, the Times newspaper said on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old, who had received George Cross – Britain's highest award for gallantry – for his service in Afghanistan in 2008, was arrested in November.

He was charged with "intentionally and illegally accessing a telecommunications network", according to The Times, and barred from leaving the UAE after having his passport confiscated.

Now a security consultant based out of the UK, Croucher was interrogated on his connections to the UK's defence ministry, but no other details have been provided regarding the spying accusation.

His family said they were facing "immense stress" and that the charges were "made up and ridiculous".

"We don't understand why it's taking the Dubai authorities so long to process this case… a case we believe to be made up and ridiculous," the family added in a statement.

Croucher threw himself on a Taliban tripware grenade in Afghanistan to save others around him, for which he was awarded the George Cross, the highest decoration alongside the Victoria Cross.

He also lived in Dubai from 2014 to 2021 working with authorities on "security related matters", The Times reported.

A UK foreign office spokesperson said: "We are supporting a British man in the UAE and are in contact with the local authorities."

Rights groups have long criticised the UAE for its track record on human rights.