TV executive faces jail in Dubai for barely visible cannabis speck

Amol Rajan
Friday 22 February 2008 01:00
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Cat Le-Huy is being held in a desert prison
Cat Le-Huy is being held in a desert prison

A London-based television executive is facing four years in jail after an amount of cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar was found in his bag at Dubai airport.

Cat Le-Huy, 31, a German national and head of technology at the television production company Endemol, has been held for three weeks without charge after flying to the United Arab Emirates on 26 January.

Friends and family have been told he can expect to face the minimum jail sentence for drug possession in the tiny Arab emirate. Mr Le-Huy had been on a two-day visit to look into investing in the region. On Tuesday, the Radio 1 DJ Grooverider, whose real name is Raymond Bingham, was jailed in Dubai for four years for possession of 2.16g of cannabis with a street value of about £10.

The Foreign Office says nine British nationals have been detained in Dubai over drugs offences this year, including Keith Brown, from the West Midlands, who was also jailed this month for four years after a speck of cannabis was found stuck to the bottom of a shoe.

Mr Le-Huy, of Belsize Park, north London, said he was first reprimanded for possession of jet-lag pills. When these were shown to be melatonin, which can be bought over the counter in Dubai and in the US, and in herbal stores in Britain, he was asked to provide a urine sample. He said when this also proved negative, his bag was searched. Airport officials found 0.03 grams of hashish, an amount not visible to the naked eye.

Mr Le-Huy is being held in Al-Wathba prison, 40 miles north of Dubai, in a desert. Friends say he has befriended DJ Grooverider, with whom he shares Australian friends, and is also close to several other English-speaking inmates.

A fighting fund has been set up to pay Mr Le-Huy's mounting legal fees, and has already raised £25,000. Mr Le-Huy, who came to Britain 10 years ago, worked at Endemol for two years, including on the reality TV show Big Brother.

Radha Sterling, a close friend of Mr Le-Huy who is co-ordinating the fund, said: "Cat absolutely hates marijuana. He never goes anywhere near it, partly because he's asthmatic and partly because he's very conscious about his health.

"He's a man of integrity, intelligent, respected, and law-abiding. We have asked for independent testing of the dirt in his bag and to know what equipment they are using but they have refused to help us."

Customs authorities have successfully applied to hold Mr Le-Huy in Dubai until at least the end of March. A 5,000-signature appeal has been sent to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

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