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Briton dies in detention in eastern Ukraine: separatist official

Paul Urey, a British aid worker, who was detained by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and accused of being a mercenary has died, an official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said on Friday.

Captured in southeast Ukraine in late April, Paul Urey, 45, was charged with “mercenary activities” by separatists in the DPR, a breakaway entity recognised only by Russia, Syria and North Korea.

Presidium Network, a non-profit relief group which advised Urey on the dangers of the frontline, described Mr Urey as a humanitarian volunteer. The group said Britain’s Foreign Office had informed Urey’s family of his death.

The Foreign Office provided no immediate comment.

The self-proclaimed separatist DPR’s human rights ombudsman, Daria Morozova, claimed on social media that Mr Urey had been suffering from a range of ailments, including diabetes and respiratory, kidney and cardiovascular issues.

“On our part, despite the severity of the alleged crime, Paul Urey was provided with appropriate medical assistance. However, given the diagnoses and stress, he passed away on July 10,” she said.

Mr Urey and another Briton, Dylan Healy, were detained at a checkpoint controlled by separatist forces in late April. The fact that he was suffering from diabetes was disclosed by the head of Presidium Network to ITV news in May.

In June, the DPR sentenced two other Britons and a Moroccan man for mercenary activities, which exempts them from the Geneva Convention governing prisoners of war. They were captured while fighting for Ukraine and sentenced to death.

Kyiv condemned the court ruling as having no authority and said the fighters were members of the Ukrainian armed forces, and thus subject to Geneva Convention protections.

Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and its allies in the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

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