British oil executive reveals how he was JAILED in India alongside ‘very serious criminals’ after being caught with a satellite phone while on a yoga retreat within the Himalayas
- Fergus MacLeod was arrested within the Valley of Flowers National Park, India
- Saudi Aramco exec had been found with satellite phone – illegal within the country
- The 62-year-old oil boss says he spent per week detained in a jail in Chamoli
- Satellite phones were banned after getting used within the Mumbai attacks in 2008
A British oil executive has revealed how he was jailed in India alongside hardened criminals after bringing a banned satellite phone on a yoga retreat.
Fergus MacLeod, who works for the oil company Saudi Aramco, says he spent per week locked up in an Indian jail alongside some ‘very serious’ convicts after accidently breaching the country’s strict rules.
Fergus MacLeod (pictured), head of investor relations at Saudi Aramco, was detained after he was found with a satellite phone while on holiday in Valley of Flowers National Park. Satellite phones are illegal for foreigners to make use of in India
Mr MacLeod, who’s head of investor relations for the corporate, the world’s largest oil exporter, says he was arrested at a hotel at a UNESCO heritage site called Valley of Flowers National Park within the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand this summer.
The 62-year-old says police took him away from the retreat after he was found with a satellite phone. It is illegitimate for foreign nationals to make use of satellite phones once they are in India. The phone type was banned after terrorists used them within the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed 175 people.
Anyone not from India must ask permission of the Government to make use of the special form of phone which uses satellites to choose up signals moderately than terrestrial towers.
Mr MacLeod was arrested on July 12 and was detained in prison within the town Chamoli until July 18. The chief, who had been on holiday with friends, including some colleagues from Saudi Aramco, said he was treated well throughout the ordeal.
Officers detained Mr MacLeod after he had turned on and off the satellite phone in his hotel room but claimed he didn’t use it.
Authorities were then capable of pick up the phone’s coordinates before arresting him.
Mr MacLeod, who has led investor relations on the oil company giant since 2017, told the Financial Times he had been unaware of the ban.
The Saudi Aramco boss had been on a yoga retreat UNESCO heritage site called Valley of Flowers National Park within the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Stock of image of an adult meditating
He also said he successfully passed through two airports within the country without being stopped by security staff. He claims he bought the phone legally within the UK in 2017 for private use.
He later used it when travelling through the Saudi Arabian desert in case of emergencies.
Mr MacLeod added that although he was treated well by lawyers throughout the detention period, his request to hunt legal counsel was rejected. He was also unable to contact family.
He said: ‘It was a daunting place and a highly traumatic experience, where I used to be in a communal cell with long-term prisoners who had committed very serious crimes.’
A police officer in Chamoli, Narendra Singh Rawat, confirmed to the FT that Mr MacLeod had been arrested and had carried the satellite phone ‘by mistake’.
While within the prison, he tried to get involved on a Foreign Office Helpline, adding that while the Government department was ‘sympathetic’ no ‘meaningful motion’ had been taken.
The oil exec was eventually released after his friends paid his bail. Despite this he could leave the country until after a court hearing at the top of the month on July 27 where he pleaded guilty and settled the superb of just £10 ($12), or Rs1,000.
Satellite phones (pictured left) use satellites to choose up signals moderately than terrestrial towers. The Indian Government made it illegal for foreign nationals to make use of the phones within the country after they were utilized in the deadly Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 (pictured right)
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it ‘provided consular support to a British man in India’ but didn’t add any further details.
Mr MacLeod is one of the senior western executives at Aramco, which is predicated in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
The Oxford University PPE graduate joined the corporate and moved to Saudi Arabia in 2017, just a few years before the oil company became one in all the most useful firms on the planet, just behind tech company Apple.