| 19.12,17. 05:16 AM |
Uber driver arrested after British diplomat found strangled in Lebanon
Photo: British media and friends have named the strangled embassy worker as Rebecca Dykes. (AP: Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
A Lebanese Uber driver with a previous arrest for drug use has confessed to the killing of a British woman who worked at the British Embassy in Beirut, a senior Lebanese security source says.
They said preliminary investigations into the murder of Rebecca Dykes showed the motive was purely criminal, not political, and the suspect had immediately confessed to the crime.
Dykes' body was found strangled by a main road outside Beirut on Saturday. She had worked at the British embassy for the Department for International Development, her LinkedIn page said.
Lebanon's NNA news agency reported the suspect had picked Ms Dykes up in his car in Beirut's Gemmayzeh district on Friday evening, before assaulting and killing her.
Police traced his car through surveillance cameras on the highway, NNA reported.
The suspect, a Lebanese citizen, was detained at his apartment, a police official said.
The senior Lebanese security official said the suspect was 41 years old and had been arrested on drug-related charges in the period 2015-17, which might not show up on his judicial record.
A second security source said the suspect had a criminal record but gave no details.
A spokesman for Uber said: "We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way we can."
The incident is the latest to highlight the issue of safety at Uber, which was stripped of its operating licence in London in September over concerns about its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.
London police complained in April that Uber was either not disclosing, or taking too long to report, serious crimes including sexual assaults and this put the public at risk.
The firm's boss has promised to make things right in the British capital.
Ms Dykes, believed to be 30 years old, had worked at the British embassy for the Department for International Development.
British ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said: "The whole embassy is deeply shocked, saddened by this news."
In a statement issued by Britain's foreign ministry, Ms Dykes' family said: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened."
Ms Dykes' friends said she was planning to fly home for Christmas on Saturday.
The murder has shaken Lebanon, where such crimes, particularly against foreigners, are relatively uncommon.