A British aid worker imprisoned by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine has died in captivity, according to the force that was holding him.
Paul Urey, who was detained at a checkpoint in April while trying to help Ukrainian citizens flee the war-torn nation, died Sunday, admitted a spokesperson for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
The rebel group insisted that Urey, 45, was a “mercenary” — blaming the diabetic’s “diagnoses and stress” for his death.
The Presidium Network, a British charity that had been in contact with him
before he was detained, confirmed that Urey’s family had been notified of his death by British officials.
The UK Foreign Office said it was “urgently seeking clarification from the Russian government.”
“They’re clearly alarming reports and our thoughts are with his family and friends,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The DPR’s so-called human rights ombudsman, Daria Morozova, claimed on social media that Urey succumbed not only to diabetes but also to respiratory, kidney and cardiovascular issues.
“On our part, despite the severity of the alleged crime, Paul Urey was provided with appropriate medical assistance,” she insisted.
Presidium Network co-founder Dominik Byrne confirmed that Urey had diabetes and needed a regular supply of insulin.
“It’s obvious that his welfare was not looked after,” Byrne said.
“The Russian authorities and the Donetsk People’s Republic knew he had need of insulin but all the way through this the Red Cross has been denied welfare access to him and has never been able to verify his actual conditions in prison.”
The charity boss insisted there was “no way” Urey had been near “mercenary activities,” which his captors claimed to justify holding him.
“They are really using these personnel as political pawns in this conflict — which is disgraceful,” Byrne said.
He also said “multiple agencies” including the British government and the Red Cross had tried in vain to secure Urey’s release.
“We are formally calling for his captors to release his body and help us repatriate it back to the UK for his family,” he said. “We really feel that is of ultimate importance and the least they can do at this stage.”
With Post wires