• Andrew Harris

Free after 2 long years! Mentally ill American stroke victim held hostage in UAE over debts, finally


Free to return home. Torture and violence finally over for David Oliver.

David Oliver the American University professor who was held hostage for 2 years in Dubai over personal debts he was unable to pay, is finally heading home thanks to human rights NGO Detained in Dubai. He got on a flight at 2:50am this morning and arrives at Dallas later on today where loving sister Beverly Thornton will be waiting to greet him.

Now it’s time to count the costs and try to rebuild his life. David has mental health issues; suffered a stroke while detained, for which he was denied any medical help; lost all his savings; says he was beaten and even had his front teeth implants stolen by another prisoner. He suffered this treatment because he temporarily couldn’t pay back his loan repayments, due to losing his job.

Bear in mind that after David missed two repayments, Sharjah Islamic Bank made a police case against David. This police case meant he could not legally get another job to earn money to pay the loan. Sharjah Islamic Bank also placed a travel ban on David, so he could not leave to work anywhere else.

Like thousands of other Dubai expats in the same position, David was basically looking at a future of homelessness on the streets of the glittering city. His sister Beverly had spent all of her own life savings keeping David housed in a cheap hostel and fed. But with that money running out, Beverly got in contact with Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “I didn’t know what else to do,” says Beverly. “We were desperate. “I thank god that Radha and her team were able to focus the world’s media on David’s situation, and the Sharjah Islamic Bank were motivated to finally do the right thing.

“The bank had been the source of David’s 2 year nightmare and showed no signs of mercy or humanity until Detained In Dubai’s media campaign shone a light on the bank’s actions. Then, within a couple of weeks they and the US embassy were falling over themselves to help him. He has been repatriated to the USA and his unpayable debts forgiven”

Spruce up. David is treated to a haircut by wellwisher Helen Newton, ready for his flight to safety.

Beverly said, "David is very grateful for the support received by various wellwishers and Detained in Dubai. He just wants to be home with people who love him. David is bringing,Tuxedo, a stray cat who has kept him company during his Dubai misery, home with him to America. Once he has fully recovered, David wants to work with human rights groups and to highlight the plight of the thousands of expats who went to Dubai seeking a better life, but who ended up with their lives ruined, trapped and unable to ever leave.”

Friend. David’s friend Tuxedo, the stray cat who has kept him company throughout his ordeal, will fly home with him to the USA.

David will arrive at Dallas International Airport this afternoon. From there, he will head to his sister Beverly’s house where he faces the mammoth task of trying to rebuild his life. First he needs to recover from the health issues suffered during his detention.

“David only knows teaching, and he is very good at it,” Beverly tells us. “But he has physical and mental health issues to recover from first. We have booked him in to the hospital to begin the long process of healing after his harsh treatment in the UAE. The main thing is he will be home, with the people who love him.”

Feast. The highly educated university professor has his first decent meal in months, thanks to supporter Helen Newton

Radha Stirling commented, “We wish David and his family the best of luck with rebuilding their lives after David’s treatment for the last 2 years. It was a true pleasure to speak to David and I am very pleased that his release was promptly secured.

“With the UAE wanting to establish themselves as a major hub for both business and tourism, it is time to change the unworkable debt laws. Either they need to allow a debtor to work, or they need to allow them to travel to somewhere else where they can work. Keeping them in Dubai, unable to earn money is nothing more than holding them hostage.”

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