“We are concerned by reports that aid worker Paul Urey may have been tortured in custody,” the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement sent to AFP. “It is necessary to see the results of a detailed post-mortem as soon as possible,” the ministry said. “Our thoughts are with Paul Urey’s family at this sad time,” she added.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Wednesday that the Russians had returned Mr Urey’s body with “possible marks of unspeakable torture”, which he said was a “brutal war crime”.
Mr Urey went as a volunteer to help evacuate Ukrainians in April, shortly after the Russian invasion. He was captured later that month and died on July 10 in the custody of Moscow-backed separatists who said he had chronic illnesses and a “depressed psychological state”.
The death of the father of two, who suffered from type 1 diabetes, was discussed by the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In July, then-UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “shocked” by reports of Mr Urey’s death. She said that the Kremlin is “fully responsible” for this, because he “was detained by Russian proxies in Ukraine“.
His mother, Linda Urey, wrote on Facebook on Thursday that her son’s body was in Kyiv. She called on supporters to “help us get him back”. His daughters, aged 17 and 20, are seeking crowdfunding to pay for the repatriation of his body.
Russia denies any responsibility for Mr Urey’s death and says Britain must negotiate with the separatists. The separatists claimed Mr Urey, from Warrington in north-west England, was a professional soldier operating as a mercenary.
Mr. Urey was detained at a checkpoint near the southeastern city of Zaporizhia and is being held in the separatist Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. Dylan Healy, another Briton captured with him, is on trial in Donetsk along with four other foreigners accused of being mercenaries, all facing the death penalty.
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