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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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North Cumbrian man not paid while in Indian prison

A Wigton man imprisoned for six months in India has revealed he was not paid for a single day he spent in jail.

John Armstrong photo
John Armstrong

Former soldier John Armstrong was one of six British men held in prison since October.

The men, all ex-military, had been working on board the American ship Seaman Guard Ohio as anti-piracy security guards.

The ship, owned by Advanfort, was impounded by the Indian authorities who arrested 33 of the crew members, eventually charging them with various offences including illegally carrying weapons.

A major campaign was launched calling for the men to be freed, and an online petition asking the British Government to step in has seen more than 150,000 people add their signatures.

All but two of the crew members – including Briton Paul Towers – were eventually released on bail last month.

Writing on his Facebook account for the first time in months, Mr Armstrong called on friends and family to add their names to a second petition.

He wrote: “It’s bad enough to be jailed for no fault of our own on one meal a day for six months, but to also not be paid by the company for all this time is a disgrace.

“I am one of the lucky ones because I don’t have family to look after or a house to pay for.

“Some of my colleagues have lost everything.”

The petition is a direct appeal to Samir Farajallah, owner of AdvanFort.

It states: “The families of AdvanFort Company’s workers and friends of the firm’s workers are asking for your support to petition Mr Samir Farajallah to do the right thing and stop holding on to everyone’s wages.”

The petition claims that wages have not been paid to any worker since November 15.

It currently has 551 signatories, including a number of Mr Armstrong’s friends and family – many of whom still live in Wigton.

Mr Armstrong and his fellow Britons must remain in India as a condition of their bail.

Legal proceedings are currently “stayed” after the high court granted permission for a further appeal hearing to take place.

This could see the charges against the men thrown out.

To add your support to Mr Armstrong and sign the petition, visit www.change.org/petitions/samir-farajallah-owner-of-advanfort-pay-your-workers.

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