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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 14:50 GMT
'Tortured' man in Saudi protest
James Cottle
James Cottle says he was forced to give a televised confession
A man who says he was tortured in a Saudi Arabian jail has protested outside a Manchester trade fair attended by the country's ambassador.

James Cottle, of Urmston, was granted royal clemency in 2003 after being convicted of mounting a bombing campaign in an alcohol bootleg feud.

But he and five others said they were innocent scapegoats for attacks on Western targets by Islamic extremists.

Saudi representatives were attending the event at the city's town hall.

Led by the new ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, they were being welcomed by the Lord Mayor and the leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Leese.

I was tortured for 10 weeks, I was beaten every night for up to six to eight hours and interrogated
James Cottle

Minister of Trade Ian Pearson was also due to give the keynote address.

But Mr Cottle said people going to Saudi Arabia should consider the "risks".

He said he was working in the country when he was arrested and had been forced into giving a televised confession to the bombings.

He was then jailed for 18 years before being released after two years.

"The Saudis are trying to get British people to work in Saudi Arabia when they run the risk like I did of being tortured and jailed when you're innocent," Mr Cottle said.

"I was tortured for 10 weeks, I was beaten every night for up to six to eight hours and interrogated. I underwent sleep deprivation for 11 days.

'Trading history'

"I almost got suicidal with it and I've been going to Prestwich Hospital with depression problems."

Mr Cottle is campaigning for an apology from the Saudi government, which has always stood by its position that the men were guilty of carrying out the bombings.

Responding to the concerns, trade minister Ian Pearson said: "There has been change in Saudi Arabia and we continue to have a dialogue on human rights' issues.

"I don't believe there is a major issue when it comes to the safety of British citizens in Saudi Arabia today."

A spokesman for Manchester City Council said it had a "long and proud history in world trade" and was "exploring new possibilities to further strengthen the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK, particularly Manchester".

He added: "For information on working in Saudi Arabia or anywhere abroad the council would advise people to contact the Foreign Office."

The council did not comment on the demonstration.


SEE ALSO:
Timeline: British 'bombs' case
14 May 03 |  Middle East
Saudi damages case blocked
30 Jul 03 |  Southern Counties


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