Interpol’s new President has been inaugurated by a General from the United Arab Emirates, who is accused of torturing British Citizens.

Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, inspector general at the UAE’s interior ministry, was elected on Thursday for one four-year term during the group’s annual General Assembly in Istanbul.

He was accused of torture and kidnapping and arbitrarily detained in the UAE by human rights organizations.

General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi (pictured), the UAE’s head of security forces who has been accused of torture, has been elected to president of the global law enforcement agency

Matthew Hedges, British academic and journalist, stated that he had been detained in UAE between May and November 2018, after being arrested for false charges of espionage on a student trip.

He has sued four UAE officials – including Al-Raisi – for £350,000 in damages after being held in ankle cuffs, denied sleep and fed a cocktail of drugs.

Ali Issa Ahmad (a fellow Briton), is supporting the academic. Ali Issa Ahmad was a 28-year-old football fan who was imprisoned by the UAE in 2019, after wearing a shirt with the colors of Qatar, UAE’s neighbor, during a match.

Security guard Mr Ahmad claimed that he had been electrocuted and burned.

In total, Al-Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal complaints against him in five countries, including in France, where Interpol has its headquarters, and in Turkey, where the election is taking place.

This decision was made after generous funding from the United Arab Emirates to Lyon, France-based organization and allegations that Abu Dhabi used Interpol’s so-called “red notices” system for wanted suspects in order to persecute dissidents.

Interpol released a statement saying that Raisi was elected after three rounds, in which he received 68.9 per cent of vote cast from member countries. 

He will take on a largely ceremonial and voluntary role for a four-year term, while Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock handles day-to-day management of the organisation. In 2019, Stock was awarded a second five year term.

Raisi ran a smooth campaign to become the president. He traveled the globe meeting politicians and officials.

According to an opinion piece written for Abu Dhabi’s government-owned newspaper, he stated that he wanted to “modernize and transform” Interpol by drawing from the UAE’s position as a leader of tech-driven police and bridge-builder within the international community.

British academic Matthew Hedges, said he was detained and tortured between May and November 2018 in the UAE, after he was arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip. He is suing Al-Raisi and three other officials for £350,000 in damages (pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada)

Matthew Hedges, British academic and journalist, stated that he was tortured and detained in UAE between May and November 2018, after being falsely charged with espionage on a student trip. He is suing Al-Raisi and three other officials for £350,000 in damages (pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada)

Since Meng Hongwei (the first ever Chinese president) was killed on his return to China in 2018, the vote for the president had been closely monitored.

It was later revealed that he was being held and accused of corruption as well as other crimes.

According to international law enforcement, ValdecyUrquiza from Brazil was also elected vice president for Americas. Garbababa Umar was vice president for Africa. 

Al-Raisi’s endorsement was seen as a signal to authoritarian countries that Interpol is allowed to prosecute critics in foreign countries.

It is feared the practice of giving out so-called ‘red notices’ for wanted suspects will be abused to persecute political dissidents rather than capture war criminals or terrorist fugitives under his leadership.

Al-Raisi could not be stopped by Sarka Havrankova of the Czech Republic, an officer with over 30 years’ experience in international police cooperation.

Three European Parliament members sent a November 11 letter to Ursula Von der Leyen, stating that General Al-Raisi’s election would damage Interpol’s reputation and undermine its mission.                     

While the position of president is symbolic, endorsement of the general by the group’s 195 members ‘would send a signal to other authoritarian governments’ that using Interpol to pursue critics abroad ‘is okay’, said Edward Lemon, an assistant professor specialising in transnational repression at Texas A&M University. 

Human Rights Watch and 19 other NGOs expressed concerns about Raisi’s potential selection.

In France, Turkey and Turkey, where the assembly will be held, several complaints regarding ‘torture’ were made against the general.

One of the complainants Mr Hedges said that he was held and tortured in the United Arab Emirates between May 2018 and November 2018. He was falsely accused of spying during a student trip. 

General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, who is also the inspector general at the UAE interior ministry, was seen attending the Interpol general assembly in Turkey where he is standing for president

General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi is the UAE interior ministry inspector general. He was also seen at Interpol’s general assembly in Turkey, where he stands for President

In papers filed at the High Court in London back in May, Mr Hedges claimed damages against Al-Raisi and three other officials for assault, false imprisonment and psychiatric injury.   

Mr Hedges, originally from Exeter, was sentenced to life imprisonment but was pardoned by the nation’s president just days later.

He described previously how he was subject to questioning for up to fifteen hours each day. 

A Durham University student who was also a PhD candidate said that he suffered sleeplessness, PTSD, and relied on the drug cocktail that was given to him while in jail. 

According to court documents, Mr Hedges is expecting to recover between £200,000 and £350,000 in damages.

Hedges has not suffered any psychological or physical mistreatment in his time detained by the UAE, as previously stated.

Inspector General in the Ministry of the Interior, Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al-Raisi

The commander in chief of the emirate's police force, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi

Mr Hedges is claiming damages against four UAE officials, including Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al-Raisi (left) and the commander in chief of the emirate’s police force, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi (right)

Another complaint was filed by lawyers for Gulf Centre for Human Rights. They accuse Ahmed Mansoor, Emirati general, of “acts of torture or barbarism” against him.

Mansoor, 43-square-foot, has been held in detention since 2017, according to lawyers.

Al-Raisi has not been subject to these complaints.

Jurgen Stock is Interpol’s Secretary General. He manages the day to day management of Interpol and told journalists that he was aware of the accusations.

Stock said that it would be up to the members of Interpol on Thursday to determine whether Raisi will get the position. Stock was granted a second 5-year term in 2019. 

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock (pictured on the first day of the 89th Interpol General Assembly in Istanbul on November 23, 2021) , who handles day-to-day management of the organisation, told journalists he was 'aware of these accusations, which are currently an issue between the parties involved'

Jurgen Stock, Interpol Secretary General (pictured at the Istanbul 89th Interpol General Assembly on November 23rd 2021). He manages the organisation’s day to day operations and told journalists that he is aware of the accusations.

British citizen Matthew Hedges talks during a news conference along with compatriot Ali Issa Ahmad, left, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Lawyers for the two British men, who claim were tortured while being detained in UAE in 2018 and 2019, have filed a criminal complaint against Maj. Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi

Matthew Hedges, a British citizen, speaks during a press conference in Istanbul with Ali Issa Ahmad (left), Monday, November 22, 2021. The lawyers for both British citizens, who claimed they were tortured in UAE detentions in 2018, and 2019, filed a criminal case against Maj. General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi.


Matthew Hedges, a British student was placed in isolation in Abu Dhabi on suspicion of spying during his PhD research.

Hedges, 34 years old, claims he was fed several drugs over the course of his six-month sentence. His first month was spent sleeping on the floor with no shower access.

Matthew Hedges, 34, says he was fed drugs during his six months in jail in 2018

Matthew Hedges (34), claims he was given drugs while incarcerated for six months.

Even though he suffered from panic attacks, he did not receive any medical treatment.

Following international protests, he had been released. 

Hedges claimed Ahmed Naser Al Raisi was ultimately responsible for the torture and detention he suffered. He is against him taking control of Interpol.

Ali Issa Ahmad (a fellow Briton), is supporting the academic. Ali Issa Ahmad was a 28-year-old football fan who was imprisoned by the UAE in 2019, after wearing a shirt with the colors of Qatar, UAE’s neighbor, during a match.

Security guard Mr Ahmad claimed that he had been electrocuted and burned.

Al Raisi is being sued by both of them for the ordeal they went through, along with leading figures throughout the country. In May, they filed claims before the High Court.

Since the arrest in 2018 of Meng Hongwei, his predecessor from China, South Korean Kim Jong-yang is the president of the organization. He had previously served as a vice ministre of public safety. 

Anwar Gargash (a former UAE minister for foreign affairs) now advises the President of the country and described the general’s victory as a ‘tribute to our country’s achievements in law enforcement and security’.

Gargash denied that Al-Raisi was being accused of slander and defamation. The election has now “crushed the rock on truth”.

Mathieu Delflem (sociology professor at the University of South Carolina, author of books on Interpol) stated that Raisi has a questionable reputation.

Sir David Calvert Smith (ex-director of British public prosecutions), published a report in March concluding that the UAE had taken over the red notices system – which are international wanted notices. This was done to pressure opponents. 

If elected, Al-Raisi would ‘likely work with like-minded governments to stymie reform efforts pushing for greater transparency in Interpol’, Texas A&M’s Lemon said.

Lemon claimed that $54million (48 million euro) was donated by the UAE to Interpol 2017; this amount is nearly equal to all of the organisation’s other 195 members. In 2020, this amount was $68million (60 millions euros).

Interpol was given or promised by the UAE around 10 million euro in 2019, roughly seven percent of its total annual budget.

Lemon explained that such funding decreases the influence of others members.

He said that the Emirates had hosted the 2018 general assembly and would like to do so again in 2020.

Covid delayed the meeting and it was relocated to Turkey. However, Recep Tayyip Turkey faces allegations of mass detentions as well as abuse of trials process and repression.

Czech candidate Havrankova stated that she believes the “very serious allegations” could prevent her opponent from winning. She stated earlier in the month that she was simply trying to offer an alternative.