UK

Briton Karl Andree Back In Britain After Being Threatened With 378 Lashings In Saudi Arabia

11/11/2015 15:14 GMT | Updated 11/11/2015 15:59 GMT

A British grandfather sentenced to more than 378 lashings for breaking Saudi Arabia's strict anti-alcohol laws said he is "humbled" after being reunited with his family in the UK.

Karl Andree, 74, had been in prison for more than a year after being arrested by Saudi religious police for possessing homemade wine in Jeddah, and his family feared he was also destined to receive a public flogging. Authorities later said Andree, who had lived in the country for 25 years, was never in danger of receiving the punishment.

Andree was put on a plane to Britain on Tuesday night after being freed from a Saudi prison, where he had been locked up since August last year.

karl andree saudi

Karl Andree said he is "humbled" after being reunited with his family in the UK

Speaking after a tearful reunion with his family, the grandfather-of-seven said he is looking forward to "rebuilding my life".

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for such incredible support. Who knows if I would have got out of the Saudi jail or escaped 378 lashes in a public flogging without this backing?" he told The Sun.

"I am overwhelmed by the support and am grateful to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Government for stepping in.

"I am truly humbled and will never forget the love and support of so many people in getting me home."

Andree's flogging sentence was dropped after his family launched a campaign for his release on compassionate grounds because his wife Verity is dying of Alzheimer's and is in Britain receiving care. A petition they launched, calling for the prime minister to intervene in their father's case, gained more than 230,000 signatures.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Andree, who has battled cancer and suffers from asthma, was released hours after he visited Riyadh on October 28.

He said: "I'm pleased that he has returned home to be reunited with his family, bringing to an end an extremely tough time for him and his family.

"I'm grateful to the Saudi Arabian government for their efforts in ensuring this positive outcome, following our discussions during my visit.

"It's through the strength and breadth of the relationship between our nations that we have been able to overcome a difficult issue like this."

Three of Andree's grandchildren, Lucy, 12, Celia, 10, and Edward, nine, also appealed to David Cameron in a video message in which they said their grandfather was a "really old man" and "no human deserves to be treated like this".

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