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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

​Brit Robert Urwin home to England after 14 months detained in Ukraine over HSBC's UAE Interpol

Robert Urwin, released from Ukraine after 14 months over HSBC Interpol warrant

“Thanks Radha for all your help, we couldn't have done it without you!” a jubilant Joanne Hazeldine declared when her father Robert Urwin finally returned to the UK, “We are all so happy he's home! Many thanks to all of you at Detained in Dubai!”

In 2018, British national Robert Urwin was detained in Kiev over a bounced cheque case in Dubai. The cheque in question, however, was written and submitted for payment months after Urwin had left the UAE. Despite being an apparent forgery, Emirati authorities and HSBC bank complained to Interpol to have Urwin arrested and extradited over the bounced cheque. He underwent extradition proceedings in Ukraine, ultimately being released, but still banned from traveling as long as the Red Notice remained on Interpol’s database. A new arrest warrant was issued against him because of the same Red Notice. Interpol subsequently deleted the listing, after it was challenged by Detained in Dubai; nevertheless, Urwin continued to be banned from exiting Ukraine.

Today, he came home.

It had been over a year since Robert Urwin was detained in Ukraine over an Interpol Red Notice issued by the UAE over a bounced cheque he never wrote; and it has been over 40 days since Interpol deleted that Red Notice as unfounded; but Robert remained trapped in Ukraine, inexplicably subject to an arrest warrant over a non-existent extradition request.

Detained in Dubai and Robert’s MP, Emma Lewell-Buck made repeated requests to the FCO, the British embassy in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian embassy in the UK, for urgent intervention to enable Robert to return home, these efforts finally paid off this weekend.

“We have been involved in this case from the beginning,” Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said. “We appealed successfully to Interpol for the removal of the abusive Red Notice, and we received files from Ukrainian officials indicating that local police had no complaint against Robert in their database, yet he had still not been cleared to exit the country. We are grateful to the FCO for finally doing what needed to be done to secure the release of a British citizen from the prolonged and unjustified denial of his freedom of movement. He has endured a nightmare for more than a year of arbitrary detention, extradition hearings, exoneration, threat of re-arrest, and prolonged absence from his family, all because of a wrongful UAE case in which he was himself the victim of an apparently forged cheque.

“Though the FCO required considerable prodding, we are extremely thankful that action was taken to liaise with the Ukrainian officials and secure Robert’s freedom. Once it became clear that there was no reason why Robert should still be stuck in the Ukraine; with the Interpol extradition request already refused, and the Red Notice deleted; the UK government stepped up to coordinate with their counterparts in the Ukraine to clear Robert for exiting the country.”

Urwin’s family expressed their joy upon Rober’s return home, “We are so thrilled this nightmare is finally over,” said Rebecca Urwin, Robert’s daughter, “Thanks to Radha Stirling and her team for all of their help.”

Stirling has been the leading voice against Interpol abuse, having successfully appealed against illegitimate Red Notices for hundreds of clients. She has established a new organisation called IPEX focused on Interpol and extradition reform, “We have seen far too many cases like Robert Urwin’s, where innocent people’s lives have been devastated by wrongful Interpol listings requested by authoritarian governments over civil and financial disputes or as tools of political persecution,” She explained, “Interpol continues to allow its database to be misused as an instrument for debt collection, or to extend the jurisdiction of un-democratic regimes in their pursuit of political enemies. There is no vetting of requests, and habitual abusers are never censured; we are trying to make Interpol more transparent and more accountable so that cases like that of Robert Urwin can be prevented before they ever occur.”

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