Family of British man held in India appeal to PM Johnson for help

Christian Michel has been detained in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates over a helicopter deal.
Christian Michel has been detained in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates over a helicopter deal.PHOTO: ABU DHABI TV

LONDON (AFP) - The son of a British man held in India - in a case linked with a Dubai princess who claims she was kidnapped - has appealed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for help.

Arms dealer Christian Michel, 59, has been detained in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates over a helicopter deal.

India on Saturday (Feb 27) dismissed calls by UN rights experts for him to be freed, rejecting suggestions that his detention had been politically motivated and without any legal basis.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) said Mr Michel's imprisonment lacked a legal basis.

And it raised concerns that his extradition "was a de facto swap" for India's capture and return of an unnamed high-profile detainee to Dubai in March 2018.

Mr Michel's 26-year-old son, Alaric Michel, welcomed Friday's comments by the UN panel, and told Sky News he hoped the British prime minister would now intervene.

"I hope he will take into consideration that he is a UK citizen and a UK citizen under his protection as prime minister of our country."

His father was being held "in some of the worst conditions" and the family was concerned about his health, he added.

Leaked videos

The detention of Mr Michel has suspected links to Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

She was captured by Indian commandoes at sea in 2018 after trying to flee the UAE.

In videos secretly sent to friends she has said she was abducted by her family, something her relatives have denied, insisting she is being cared for at home.

PM Johnson himself expressed concern about the videos in comments on Wednesday.

Sky News meanwhile has acquired video of Christian Michel - filmed while he was in detention in Dubai - in which he links his pending extradition to Ms Latifa's case.

"In 2018, everything changed. An event happened in the Indian Ocean which completely changed my life and the proceedings that I was under," he said. "So now I'm sitting in a jail in Dubai facing extradition. None of this would even concern me, but for a number of meetings that took place in July, after the return of Latifa."

Mr Michel was working in the UAE as a middleman and consultant for a subsidiary of the Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland, itself a subsidiary of aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica.

He was accused of arranging kickbacks to Indian officials to secure a deal to supply 12 helicopters in 2010. India cancelled the deal in January 2014 amid allegations of bribery.