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Hero Royal Marine is cleared after being held in Dubai jail for seven months for 'spying'


A hero Royal Marine has been cleared of spying charges after being held in Dubai for seven months.

40-year-old Matthew Croucher was arrested in November and banned from leaving the UAE pending an investigation. 

Authorities have today revealed he has been cleared after admitting they had “inadequate evidence”.

Authorities on Friday revealed that Croucher had been arrested on suspicion of “accessing a public facility using illegal means of technology”, which his family from Solihull, West Midlands, had dubbed “made up and ridiculous”.

“The case was referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution, and after thorough investigation, the evidence was found to be inadequate. The case was dismissed and Croucher is now free to leave the UAE,” said the Dubai media office. 

“The decision highlights the Dubai Public Prosecution’s commitment to upholding the rule of law,” the statement continued. 

Croucher was arrested on November 4 after Dubai officials accused him of “intentionally and illegally accessing a telecommunications network,” but did not reveal who they claim he was spying on, or who he was supposedly working for, The Times reported. 

Officials reportedly obtained an electronic device, which Croucher said he used in his day-to-day job for security penetration testing, after obtaining a warrant to search where he was living. 

The former Lance Corporal, after leaving the Crops, became a security consultant and has lived in Dubai since 2014.

According to a close friend, Croucher was forced to sleep on the floor while in prison as it was so overcrowded and made to eat a “primitive meal of rice and chicken twice a day with very unsanitary amenities”. They also claimed he was interrogated by Dubai’s Criminal Investigation Department for six hours, being questioned about his role within the UK’s Ministry of Defence and intelligence services. 

Croucher was eventually released from prison after four days but because his phone, passport and internet banking access device were confiscated, he has been stuck in Dubai with no money. He was also required to report to the Al Barsha police station until March 27. Croucher’s friend added that, unable to earn and unable to leave, his family have been left waiting with no answers or support. 

Before he was cleared on Friday, his family said: “We’re shocked at the circumstances which have played out. He was only due to be away for a couple of weeks. We don’t understand why it is taking so long to process the case.

“We believe the case to be made up and ridiculous. The Foreign Office has been useless, often making things worse and telling him his case has been formally concluded.

“This has caused our family immense stress and we just hope this can be concluded at the earliest opportunity.

Croucher was awarded the George Cross after jumping on a Taliban grenade in 2008 in Afghanistan to save his four colleagues. He survived thanks to his body armour repelling the force of the blast. The explosion left him bleeding from the nose and almost deaf, but he continued with his patrol. 

Croucher recalled later: “I thought, ‘I’ve set this bloody thing off and I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect the others.

“I figured that if I could keep my torso and head intact I’d probably survive any other injuries – although I fully expected to lose a limb.”

Upon recieving the award, he said: He said: “It’s a great honour but I don’t ­really think about what I did. When you are in the heat of a gun battle there are always people doing heroic things and they don’t always get picked out. They are just doing their job.”

The George Cross is the highest award bestowed by the British government for non-operational gallantry or gallantry not in the presence of an enemy, introduced in 1940. Only 416 in total have been awarded, including three collective awards. 

Before Croucher’s clearance, a UK Foreign Office Spokesperson said: “We are supporting a British man in the UAE and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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