Plea to free TV executive held on drugs charge

THE father and girlfriend of a Hampstead TV boss locked up for nearly three weeks without charge in Dubai have begged the authorities to let him go

Katie Davies

THE father and girlfriend of a Hampstead TV boss locked up for nearly three weeks without charge in Dubai have begged the authorities to let him go.

Cat Le-Huy, 31, head of technology for Endemol, was arrested as he arrived in the United Arab Emirates on January 26.

Speaking exclusively to the Ham&High, close friends and family describe him as a gentle "internet geek", whose favourite night out is a quiet vegetarian meal at Carluccio's on Hampstead High Street.

Mr Le-Huy was arrested by police on his arrival at Dubai airport for carrying jet lag pills they initally thought were illegal.

The Garnett Road resident was subjected to a strip search and was then told traces of hashish had been found in his bag.

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Since then, he has been told nothing but is believed to have been transferred to a high security prison 40 miles out in the middle of the desert - with no phone or access to a lawyer.

His girlfriend of five years, 28-year-old Mildred Von Hildegard, has been left fearing for his future.

"He told me he wouldn't be able to phone because they were moving him - that's the last we heard," she said.

"We have asked for the samples to be sent to independent drug experts for testing - but the police refused.

"They gave him documents in Arabic and said if you sign you will go home - he did but he's still being held.

"Their own test results on the dirt, the pills and Cat's urine were due back on Monday afternoon but they moved him to the prison before they were received.

"Why are they doing that unless they have presumed he's guilty? The tablets are melatonin that you can buy over the counter in Dubai and in the US.

"They aren't illegal and we have the original bottle.

"We completely thought Dubai was a safe place to go. Of course, you read the advice and are considerate of dress and things like that because it's Islamic. But you always think if truth is on your side you'll be OK.

"That isn't happening and everyone, including the UK government, is pushing us away and it's really scary."

Mr Le-Huy was due to meet a friend in Dubai and to explore business opportunities in the country.

He has worked for the production company behind Big Brother for two years and has lived in Britain for the past decade.

His friends fear he has been targeted because of his unconventional looks.

Ms Hildegard added: "I am really not keen to play the race card - but Cat was an easy target.

"He's Southeast Asian with tattoos and long hair but he's no hell raiser. He's the perfect son-in-law and loves animals.

"He likes a drink like any Brit - but he's really just a massive geek."

His father, Christopher Le-Huy, said: "There is precedent for them to hold him in this way for up to a year or more.

"I don't know what the United Arab Emirates' law says.

"I only ask the authorities for forgiveness if my son unknowingly broke any laws in their country and to allow him to go back to his family and friends.

"We are most grateful to any members of the Hampstead and Highgate community who could voice their support or use their influence, which could contribute to the release of our son Cat."

More than 4,000 people have now signed a petition for Cat to be freed at www.petitiononline. com/cle2008/petition.

Hundreds have also signed up to groups on the internet site Facebook demanding his release.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was not intervening because Mr Le-Huy is not a British national.