Decorated Royal Marine hero who saved comrades’ lives in Afghanistan arrested & held in Dubai for 7 months for ‘spying’

A FORMER British Royal Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan has been held in Dubai for seven months on spying charges.

Matt Croucher, 40, who had received the George Cross – Britain’s highest award for gallantry – for his service in Afghanistan in 2008, was arrested in November.

Matt Croucher with his George Cross - Britain's highest award for gallantry

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Matt Croucher with his George Cross – Britain’s highest award for gallantryCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Lance corporal Matthew Croucher saved his colleagures by diving in front of a grenade

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Lance corporal Matthew Croucher saved his colleagures by diving in front of a grenadeCredit: Collect
The soldier threw himself onto a tripware grenade in Afghanistan to save others around him

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The soldier threw himself onto a tripware grenade in Afghanistan to save others around himCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Croucher shaking hands with King Charles

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Croucher shaking hands with King CharlesCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

He was charged with “intentionally and illegally accessing a telecommunications network”, according to The Times, and barred from leaving the UAE after having his passport confiscated.

Now a security consultant usually based in Britain, Croucher was interrogated on his connections to the UK’s defence ministry, but no other details have been provided regarding the spying accusation.

His family said they were facing “immense stress” and that the charges were “made up and ridiculous”.

“We don’t understand why it’s taking the Dubai authorities so long to process this case… a case we believe to be made up and ridiculous,” the family added in a statement.

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We don’t understand why it’s taking the Dubai authorities so long to process this case… a case we believe to be made up and ridiculous

Family statement

A close friend told The Times that Croucher was forced to sleep on the floor in an overcrowded prison and lived on rice and chicken “with very unsanitary amenities”.

The pal went on to allege authorities obtained a search warrant for where Croucher was staying and retrieved an electronic device used for security penetration testing as part of his day job.

He was held for four days before being released under investigation and it is understood there is not enough evidence to progress with the charge, they claimed.

However, his phone, passport and internet banking access device have all been confiscated so he’s stuck in the UAE.

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It’s understood Croucher had been working in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in October before stopping off in Dubai to meet friends on his way home.

Croucher, from Solihull, West Midlands, threw himself on a Taliban tripware grenade in Afghanistan to save others around him, for which he was awarded the highest decoration, alongside the Victoria Cross.

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He also lived in Dubai from 2014 to 2021 working with authorities on “security related matters”, the Times reported.

A UK foreign office spokesperson said: “We are supporting a British man in the UAE and are in contact with the local authorities”.

Rights groups have long criticised the UAE for its track record on human rights.