Politics

Autistic son, 20, stuck in UAE with his father in jail and passport confiscated

The family of an autistic young man who is stuck in Dubai because his passport was confiscated say they are desperate to bring him to England.

Albert Douglas, 20, is unable to look after himself due to his learning difficulties, according to his brother Wolfgang, who lives in South Kensington.

Whilst living in Dubai, Albert was dependent on the care of his wealthy mother and father who made a fortune during the Middle Eastern country’s property boom.

But the family was torn apart when their father, Albert Douglas senior, was thrown in jail in the UAE earlier this year. They have repeatedly claimed that the 60-year-old, who is also a grandfather, has been beaten in jail and forced to witness torture of fellow inmates.

Albert senior was initially prosecuted after Wolfgang’s property business, Timberwolf, went bankrupt in 2019 and was unable to pay creditors in the Gulf state. Albert senior had left the company in 2018.

Albert Douglas (top) his sons Albert (bottom left) and Wolfgang (bottom right)

But he was handed a three year sentence after border guards caught him trying to flee the country to neighbouring Oman.

Wolfgang, 34, and a father-of-three, previously explained that it is common practice for UAE authorities to target a family member of someone suspected of a crime but whom they cannot reach. In this case, Albert senior was jailed for the problems with Wolfgang’s company.

Autistic son, 20, stuck in UAE with his father in jail and passport confiscated
Albert Douglas with his cousin

Wolfgang says Albert junior was required to hand over his passport 18 months ago at a UAE police station, to act as a guarantor when Albert senior was first incarcerated.

But his passport was never returned, and Wolfgang and his mother, who are both now in the UK, want to also bring Albert junior back here as well.

Wolfgang said: “We have been able to speak to my brother for the last few months but he is in complete confusion and can’t understand why he hasn’t been able to see his father for so long.

“Mum and Dad used to do everything for him, clean and bathe him, because unfortunately he can’t look after himself.

Autistic son, 20, stuck in UAE with his father in jail and passport confiscated
Albert Douglas with his granddaughter. His family claim he has been beaten whilst in prison in the UAE

“For the first week or two he was effectively wandering around looking for my father. He couldn’t understand where our father had gone.”

Wolfgang continued: “He was not involved in mine or our Dad’s businesses at all.

“He has a heavy lisp and has a way of talking that means you would know he was autistic immediately.”

He added: “This whole thing of keeping him there is just another way of putting pressure on our family.”

The UAE’s Ministry of Justice and Judicial Department were approached for comment, but neither responded.

Wolfgang explained that Albert junior is being looked after by their other brother in Dubai, but that he would be happier and safer if he was able to join Wolfgang and their mother in the UK.

“The idea was that after going to the courts, my brother’s passport would be returned to [Albert junior] after Dad was sentenced. That was about five months ago.”

However the family has received a glimmer of positive news this week, after hearing that the UAE authorities suggested they will return his passport, although they are not sure when.

Wolfgang said: “It sounds like they have started a process, but we’re still waiting and we won’t get our hopes up. I think the media attention might be working.”

The family has also been lobbying the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to pressure the UAE into bringing Albert junior home, but say there has been little progress.

The Foreign Office said it cannot directly intervene but has been supporting him and has sent consular staff to meet him a number of times.

A spokesperson said: “We are supporting a British man following his arrest in the UAE. We are in regular contact with his family in the UK and have raised his case with the local authorities.”

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