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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 14:48 GMT
Britons interrogated in Saudi Arabia
Intersection after bomb blast
Britons are also being questioned about bombings
By Frank Gardner in Cairo

Five Britons being held in Saudi Arabia are being intensively interrogated by the Saudi Interior Ministry.

They were arrested over the past three months on suspicion of alcohol dealing but are also being questioned in relation to recent bombings.


If the Saudis viewed them as ordinary criminals they would have kept them in an ordinary jail

The British Embassy in Riyadh says it hopes to gain access on Monday for the first time to two of the five Britons, Sandy Mitchell and Paul Moss.

Since their arrests in October and December, British consular officials have been prevented from seeing them until now, although they have visited the others in detention.

The men are under suspicion, along with three other Britons, of dealing in alcohol, which is strictly forbidden in the Muslim state.

Bomb attacks

If the Saudis viewed them as ordinary criminals they would have kept them in an ordinary jail.

Instead they are being held by the Interior Ministry, which is trying to solve the case of several recent bomb attacks that have targeted British and Irish expatriates.

One Briton has died and five others have been injured in the explosions.

Expatriates living in Saudi Arabia believe the bombings are in some way connected to a turf war over the lucrative black market in illicit alcohol.

Relatives of those Britons being held have reportedly appealed to Prince Charles to intervene on their behalf.

But Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister, Prince Naif, has warned that westerners should not expect lenient treatment for alcohol-related offences.

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See also:

13 Dec 00 | Middle East
US national held in Saudi Arabia
16 Dec 00 | Middle East
Saudi bombers 'must be caught soon'
23 Nov 00 | Middle East
UK helps probe Saudi bomb
02 Dec 00 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia's challenges
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21 Dec 00 | Middle East
Timeline: Saudi Arabia
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