Saudi Aramco executive spent a week in Chamoli jail carrying a satellite phone

A senior executive of oil giant Saudi Aramco spent nearly a week in custody in Uttarakhand after being arrested by police for carrying a satellite phone without the authorities’ permission during a holiday in July. He was released after paying a fine of Rs 1,000.

Fergus McLeod, the head of investor relations at Saudi Aramco, told the UK’s Financial Times that he was arrested on July 12 at his hotel in the Valley of Flowers National Park. The 62-year-old was kept in the Chamoli city jail till July 18.

According to the FT report, officers detained the British executive after taking coordinates of the phone, which McLeod says he turned on and off at his hotel but didn’t use. At the same time, on vacation with friends, Some of whom were allies of Saudi Aramco.

A part of the Chamoli district lies on the Line of Actual Control with China.

Chamoli SP Shweta Choubey told The Deccan Era that Chamoli police caught the executive after carrying a satellite phone, which is against the rules – illegal to possess or use satellite phones in India by foreign nationals without prior approval, is unauthorized.

“He had no idea that it was not legal to carry satellite phones in India (without prior permission) and took them with him. That’s why he was taken into custody. There was nothing wrong with this process,” she said.

Narendra Singh Rawat, SHO of Chamoli’s Govind Ghat police station, said that on July 11, he had received information that a foreign national was carrying a satellite phone near the border.

“We sent a policeman to confirm that the man was carrying a satellite phone. It was confirmed. He was travelling to the Valley of Flowers and was taken into custody there.

“He was arrested under sections of the Indian Telegraph Act and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act. After his arrest, he was sent to the district jail, where he remained till July 18 before getting bail. The matter ended on July 27 after paying a fine of Rs 1,000.

“We provided consular assistance to a British man in India,” said a spokesman for the British High Commission in New Delhi.

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