‘Highly traumatic’: British tourist jailed for bringing a satellite phone into India


Satellite phones are illegal for foreign nationals in India (file photo).

Revolution_Ferg/wikimedia common

Satellite phones are illegal for foreign nationals in India (file photo).

A UK tourist has described his “highly traumatic experience” after being arrested in India for possessing a satellite phone.

Fergus MacLeod had been at a yoga retreat in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand when police detained him for almost a week alongside “long-term prisoners who had committed very serious crimes”.

The 62-year-old, who is a senior executive at oil giant Saudi Aramco, said he didn’t realise that satellite phones are illegal for foreign nationals in India. It follows their use by terrorists in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

MacLeod was arrested on July 12 and held in jail until July 18.

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He said he had bought the phone legally in the UK as he often travels to remote areas. Despite being banned, the device had not been picked up by security at two airports in India.


MacLeid said the phone was never used but was switched on in his hotel room which alerted authorities.

He told the Financial Times he had been treated well in prison but at the same time it was a “frightening place”. His bail was paid for by his fellow travellers on the retreat, and he was able to leave the country after pleading guilty and paying a small fine.


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