NEW: Karl Andree's son says "he's an old man," may not survive 360 lashings
Andree has already been imprisoned over a year because of homemade wine
Britain's prime minister is writing Saudi authorities about the case, his office says
The crime is related to homemade wine. But can 74-year-old Karl Andree survive the punishment – 360 lashes by Saudi authorities?
His son fears that he won’t, conceding that while Andree may have done wrong in the eyes of Saudi officials, it shouldn’t warrant what may amount to a death sentence.
“I completely understand that he has committed a crime and, for that, you have to face consequences … He understands as well,” Simon Andree told CNN. “But … on the basis of his ill health, (I hope) he can get clemency and get released, because I feel he won’t survive those lashes.”
Alcohol – like narcotics, weapons, pork and pornography – are prohibited in Saudi Arabia, in line with the Middle Eastern nation’s strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. And it’s what got Karl Andree in trouble, for transporting homemade wine in his car.
The British grandfather has since spent more than a year in custody.
Simon Andree acknowledges the Saudi law in this case. But he also appealed for authorities there to take into account his father’s physical condition.
“He’s an old man,” the son said.
British leader writes to Saudi authorities about case
The Andree family got support Tuesday from British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose office signaled Tuesday that he will reach out to Saudi officials.
“Given the ongoing concerns and the fact we would like to see more progress, the PM is writing today to the Saudis to further raise the case on the back of the action that has already been taken by the Foreign Office,” a spokesperson for Cameron’s office said.
In another development, UK Secretary of Justice Michael Gove announced Tuesday that his government would withdraw its $9 million (£5.9 million) for training related to the Saudi penal system. The contract was submitted by the commercial arm of the British Ministry of Justice in August 2014, the same month Andree was arrested.
British authorities didn’t tie this development with Andree.
Yet a spokesperson for the Foreign Office did say that diplomats have been involved in his case for some time, including “regular visits to check on his welfare, and frequent contact with his lawyer and family.”
“Ministers and senior officials have raised Mr. Andree’s case with the Saudi government,” the spokesperson said. “And we are actively seeking his release as soon as possible.”
CNN’s Simon Cullen and Alex Felton contributed to this report.