A SAUDI PRISON
RON JONES ACCOUNT
The Bomb in Riyadh
Ron Jones, like many other Westerners working in
Saudi Arabia, enjoyed a sumptuous lifestyle where
he worked hard but was paid well. A tax accountant
working for a big Saudi company, he obeyed the rules,
he didn't drink, and lived quietly.
It had came to an abrupt end on March 15, 2000 as
he stood outside a bookstore in downtown Riyadh,
"Something happened. I don't know what it was...and
I was thrown. I don't remember anything after that
until I woke up in an ambulance and I had been scorched
down the left side of my body." Somebody had
set off a car bomb - one of many similar attacks
on Westerners living in Saudi Arabia.
police came to the hospital to ask him some questions
but Ron Jones knew nothing about bombs and politics.
He had only been in the country for about six months.
Then the police offered to drive him home. "I
noticed that we were going in the opposite directions
to where I lived...And we came to this big wall."
They drove past armed guards and into a large compound.
As the police led him to a bare cell (see
Ron's recollection of the cell) he knew something
was very wrong.
wall outside the compound where Ron Jones
Inside the Saudi Prison
"They handcuffed me and then they made me sit
on the floor and they shackled my feet...I said, Why?
And he (the guard) said just lift up your feet and
he just swung this cane onto the soles of my feet...And
he did it again and the pain was absolutely excruciating.
He said, 'Now you will tell me the truth'."
was taken to the Mabaheth Interrogation Centre in
Riyadh. Once you enter the gates you're presumed
"And the more I screamed the more they'd hit.
They would make me hold my hands out, lift my own
feet up, while they beat them with canes about four
feet long. They would make me kneel in a corner
with the soles of my feet facing outwards and beat
them with pick axe handles. They would leave me
in rooms blindfolded and shackled. They would spin
me around in a chair while I was blindfolded and
whack me round the head. They threatened they would
This method of torture is known as Falanga. The
victim is beaten on the soles of his feet with blunt
instruments so there are no long term physical signs
In his cell Ron would hear screams of others being
tortured, "It was awful because you knew what
they were going through. And you knew it was your
Ron remembers one man who subjected him to a severe
beating. "He wasn't caring where he hit me.
It was wherever the blow landed. And then he started
to sing. But he was singing and the blows got fiercer
and it actually knocked my blindfold off slightly
and I could see him out of the corner of my eye
and he was smiling." (see
a sketch of Ron's torturer)
"And I remember saying, I'll tell you anything
you want, just don't hit me again." He signed
Second Team of Interrogators
he returned home, his pay had stopped and there was
no apology given.
After Ron Jones had been in prison for six weeks,
a second team of interrogators showed up. They believed
him when he said he was innocent and they believed
his stories of beatings and abuse. They gave him
a statement to sign which would eventually secure
"The Statement was that I had to apologize
to the Saudi government, the Saudi King and the
Saudi people for lying and confessing to a bombing
that I hadn't committed. And the only reason that
I had confessed to those bombings was that I couldn't
stand being in solitary confinement."
Three weeks later, after his injuries had healed,
the authorities let him go.
Saud al Faisal insists that Westerners are
not being tortured in Saudi jails.
Once he returned to England he
told his story of abuse. And he traveled to the Parker
Institute in Copenhagen, a leading centre for the
diagnosis of torture. There doctors examined his feet
with ultrasound technology to see if there was an
lasting damage under the skin. Their tests revealed
that he had been tortured on both his feet and hands,
severely, and for a long time.
The diagnosis was confirmed by
But Saudi's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal
remains adament that the stories of torture are false.
"I don't care what the so-called experts say.
I know what is happening in my government, and I know
what instructions all officers in the government have
about torture and things like that."