A 5-year-old surgery patient whose parents allegedly removed him prematurely from a British hospital — now the subject of a major international search by authorities concerned for his health — could be in southern Spain, British police said Saturday.
An international search was launched after Ashya’s parents took him from hospital on Thursday afternoon and travelled on a ferry to France with the boy and his six siblings before heading south to Spain.
Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, were arrested yesterday at 10pm local time after Spanish police stopped the family’s vehicle.
A spokesman for Spanish National Police said: “The boy’s parents are currently under arrest and are being questioned at a police station after officers acted on a European arrest warrant last night.
“Police have a maximum of 72 hours to question them before handing them over to a judge, who would then initiate extradition procedures.
“The boy is in a hospital receiving the necessary care.
“This case shows just how effective Twitter can be as an operational tool.
“Within hours of appealing on Twitter for help to find the boy we received a call from a member of the public who had seen the appeal, which allowed us to locate him and his parents.”
British police are due to arrive in Spain today to continue their investigation and question Ashya’s parents.
They had requested a European arrest warrant for the couple on suspicion of neglect for taking the boy out of Southampton General Hospital.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead, of Hampshire Constabulary, said last night: “There are no winners in this situation. I’ve said all along that this must be a terribly distressing time for Ashya’s family and I stand by that now.”
He added that it was too soon to say when Ashya would come back to the UK but Southampton General Hospital had been contacted so they could liaise with the medical team taking care of him in Spain.
“Ashya’s brothers and sisters were not in the vehicle,” Mr Shead said. “We have located them. They’re all OK, they’re fine. They are actually in a hotel about 10 miles away.”
In a YouTube video blog, Mr King, a Jehovah’s Witness, explained that the family had decided to take him out of hospital to seek a cancer treatment called proton beam which is not available on the NHS.
Sitting on a bed with Ashya in his arms, Mr King said: “We were most disturbed today to find that his face is all over the internet and newspapers and we have been labelled as kidnappers putting his life at risk, neglect.”
Police had warned that the family might not be able to work the machine used to feed Ashya and that it would run out of battery power.
But Mr King said: “As you can see there’s nothing wrong with him, he is very happy actually since we took him out of hospital.
“He has been smiling a lot more, he has very much been interacting with us.
Explaining why the family had travelled to Spain, Mr King said his son’s treatment in Southampton seemed like “trial and error” but he was told if he questioned it the hospital would seek an emergency protection order.
He said: “After that I realised I can’t speak to the oncologist at all, because if I actually ask anything or give any doubt I wasn’t in full accord with them, they were going to get a protection order which meant in his deepest, darkest hour I wouldn’t be there to look after him, and neither would my wife – they would prevent us from entering the ward.
“That’s such a cruel system I decided I to start looking at the proton beam myself.”
He added: “We decided to try and sort it out ourselves but now we’re refugees almost.
“We can’t do anything. The police are after us. The things we want to do to raise the money to pay for the proton beam, they’ve prevented it now.”
Mr King explained that the family had been intending to seek proton beam treatment for Ashya in the Czech Republic.
“Proton beam is so much better for children with brain cancer,” he said. “It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes right through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head.
“We pleaded with them (in Southampton) for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer – which is called medulloblastoma – it would have no benefit whatsoever.
“I went straight back to my room and looked it up and the American sites and French sites and Switzerland sites where they have proton beam said the opposite, it would be very beneficial for him.”