Written by Keith Carmichael 

As a British businessman, I was detained without charge or trial in a Middle Eastern country for 857 days from November 1981 until March 1984. During the imprisonment, I suffered torture; grave bodily injuries, including a fractured spine and psychiatric trauma.

For nearly three months I was detained in solitary confinement, completely incommunicado before being transferred to another prison.

In 1982, I heard by lucky chance of Prisoners Abroad and immediately I wrote a letter to them describing my predicament.  Soon after, a friend who visited me regularly smuggled in such a warm, beautiful and friendly first letter from Joe Parham of Prisoners Abroad. All her letters really encouraged me never to give up hope of being released, and wonderfully uplifted my spirits. I looked forward to reading her morale boosting letters, some of which made me laugh - a rare treat for a prisoner, and others made me think, kept my brain ticking over. Joe and her colleagues were extremely helpful in sorting out some of the claims against the company which employed me.

Prisoners Abroad always asked me how else they could help. My friends were smuggling in newspapers books, paper and biros; but I really needed to see a medical specialist for treatment of my pain-wracking spinal injury. Joe replied that they couldn’t lobby for assistance until I produced an official medical report.

The prison captains refused to give me copies of hospital and consultants’ reports, so I told the world that I would go on hunger strike until I was taken to hospital.

After 40 days without food, I was escorted to the hospital where I persuaded the trauma consultant to hand over - to my friendly prison guard - the medical report which I then had copied and sent immediately to PA.

In November 1983, Lord Avebury a Patron of Prisoners Abroad tabled a Question in the Lords which sparked a debate to request that Her Majesty’s Government make representation for my release on bail to receive medical treatment in the UK.

Prisoners Abroad’s initiative and outstanding help resulted in regular hospital visits and improved conditions until I was released.

On my return to the UK I visited your Islington office many times and was overwhelmed by the friendliness and help of everyone I met. Craig showed me a press article, which lead to a route for reparation which I later followed up after hospitalisation.

I shall forever remember and be grateful to Prisoners Abroad for their exceptional help and advice.

Joe Parham and Keith Carmichael, who met in person at Prisoners Abroad's Annual Supporter Dinner in 2017.

Being offered a lifeline can change everything. 

Prisoners Abroad translates human rights law into practical life-saving actions by providing prisoners access to vitamins and essential food, emergency medical care, freepost envelopes to keep in touch with home and books and magazines to help sustain mental health.