British national Paul Urey, who was captured by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, has died in custody, according to media reports. The United Kingdom says it is seeking urgent clarification from Ukraine and the Russian government on reports of the death of a British aid worker.
“We are urgently raising this with our Ukrainian allies and the Russian Foreign Ministry,” the UK Foreign Office said. “We continue to be in close contact with the family.” Urey, from Warrington, Cheshire, was arrested at a checkpoint near the south-east town Zaporizhia in April and was accused of being a mercenary.
He was held captive in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) along with another man, Dylan Healy, while reportedly trying to rescue a woman and her family trapped by the fighting.
A representative of Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said on July 15 that Briton Paul Urey had died in custody. “He died on July 10,” Darya Morozova, a representative of a separatist group in Donetsk, said via the Telegram network. She said that the 45-year-old died “due to illness and stress”. Morozova also said Urey suffered from diabetes, a claim that could not be immediately confirmed. Urey’s capture in April by separatist forces amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February, was also confirmed by Russian television showing his interrogation while in handcuffs at the time.
Non-governmental organizations and colleagues have described Urey as a humanitarian worker. Russian-backed separatist soldiers have described him as a “professional” soldier and accused him of “mercenary activity”. Urey’s family members said in May that they were “preparing for the worst.”
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