We were tortured, says Briton freed by Saudis

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Indy Politics

One of the six Britons released from a Saudi jail on Friday spoke yesterday of his delight at returning home - and said he would probably never leave the UK again.

Sandy Mitchell, 44, the first to speak publicly about his ordeal, said he still could not believe he was free.

"It's beautiful to be home; it's still a bit of a dream," he said outside his sister's house in Halifax, West Yorkshire. "I went to bed at 2am and woke up at 7am and still couldn't believe I was here. It's lovely."

Mr Mitchell, who spent nearly three years in jail after being forced into confessing to two car bombings, described the conditions. He also reasserted his innocence. "We were tortured - absolutely," he said. "That's why we had to make those confessions. We can prove we are innocent."

Mr Mitchell, originally from Glasgow, had faced a public beheading after being convicted of being the mastermind behind the attacks, in which another Briton, Christopher Rodway, was killed. The men were accused of being involved in gang warfare to control the illegal alcohol trade.

Now, he said, his priority was to get back to some semblance of normal life, probably in Yorkshire. "I want to get on with my life as soon as possible," he said. "I will never go back to an Arab country again. I will probably never leave the UK again." Mr Mitchell was reunited with his sister Margaret, his wife Noi, 28, and four-year-old son Matthew. He had not seen them for more than two years.

Elsewhere, the five other British men who returned from Saudi Arabia on Friday - James Cottle, Peter Brandon, Les Walker, James Lee and William Sampson, who has a Canadian passport - were reunited with their families.

Mr Cottle, from Stretford, Manchester, was described by his ex-wife Mary Martini as "too weak" to speak at the moment. Mr Cottle, 51, had lost six stone, she said. "He is mentally and physically very, very weak," said Ms Martini. "All he wanted to do when he got home yesterday was sit in a bath, then go to sleep. The skin is hanging off his body - he looks like he has just come out of a concentration camp."