Saudi Aramco exec spent a week in Indian jail for carrying satellite phone

Saudi Aramco exec spent a week in Indian jail for carrying satellite phone
Saudi Aramco's head of investor relations Fergus MacLeod was imprisoned in India over the summer for carrying a satellite phone.
2 min read
24 October, 2022
Saudi Arabia and Aramco are seeking to build closer ties with India [Getty]

A senior executive at Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil exporter, was imprisoned in India in July for having a satellite phone while on holiday close to New Delhi's restive border with China

Fergus MacLeod, the 62-year-old head of investor relations at the oil giant, said he was arrested on 12 July at his hotel in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Himalayas, according to The Financial Times. 

He was imprisoned in the town of Chamoli till 18 July. 

Live Story

It is illegal for foreigners to possess or operate satellite phones in India without government permission ever since the devices were used by militants during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Macleod told The Financial Times he was unaware of the ban having openly carried the satellite phone through two Indian airports without being stopped by staff. 

He was released on bail a week later, before pleading guilty in court on 27 July where he paid a $12 (Rs 1000) fine. 

Live Story

"It was a frightening place and a highly traumatic experience, where I was in a communal cell with long-term prisoners who had committed very serious crimes," MacLeod said of his imprisonment, according to the FT

India's 3,500 km border with China has been a source of tensions in recent years, and is closely monitored by Indian security forces ever since deadly clashes erupted between the two sides in 2020. 

Fergus MacLeod is one of Saudi Aramco's leading officials and comes as Riyadh seeks to build stronger ties with India, an increasingly important market for oil.