The Times: Hervé Jaubert: Great Dubai escape of French 007

A former agent turned expat businessman tells how he fled when he was threatened with jail and torture

Matthew Campbell and Sara Hashash
August 23 2009, 1:00am, The Sunday Times

ONE night last summer, Hervé Jaubert, a former French secret agent, put on the flowing black robes worn by women in the Islamic world. Nobody paid him any attention as he walked down to the shore.

Underneath the disguise he wore a diving suit and a device known to military commandos as a “rebreather”. He swam underwater to a police boat riding at anchor. Climbing aboard, he disabled the engine.

It was just like the old days, when he had taken part in covert adrenaline-charged missions to former Soviet countries and the Middle East. This time he was not spying for his country. He was preparing to flee Dubai, where he was about to be thrown into jail for crimes he says he did not commit.

“The police had interrogated me for hours and threatened me with torture,” he said last week from Palm Beach, Florida, where he lives with his wife and two children. “I lived with a ball of fear in my stomach.”

He was sentenced in absen-tia earlier this year to five years in prison after his escape in a rubber dinghy. “If I hadn’t left I’d be stuck in the same nightmare as the others,” he added, referring to dozens of expatriate businessmen, including Britons, who are languishing in jail in Dubai for alleged “economic crimes”, some of them without being charged.</