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Dubai Police Question British Daredevil Over Skyscraper Climbs

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A British daredevil known for his vertigo-inspiring online videos chronicling his climbs up buildings and construction cranes was interrogated by Dubai police over his recent ascents in the sheikhdom, authorities said Sunday.

James Kingston’s interrogation comes as the city-state has fashioned itself as an extreme-sports haven, whether that means tourists skydiving over the man-made Palm Jumeirah archipelago or professionals base-jumping off of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

But those adrenaline-seeking activities have the blessing of the city’s rulers, unlike people like Kingston, whose most-recent video saw him shimmy over a fence at an active construction site in downtown Dubai in broad daylight while offer a running commentary.

Kingston told The Associated Press in a message Sunday that he had been detained and released hours later, without elaborating. That’s after he wrote online Saturday that “four undercover agents plucked me from my hotel room earlier today with no warning.”

The state-owned newspaper Emarat Al Youm quoted Dubai police Brig. Gen. Salem Khalifa al-Rumaithi on Sunday as confirming police had “summoned” Kingston over recent climbs in the sheikhdom. Al-Rumaithi said Kingston previously had been arrested in 2014 after climbing to the top of the Princess Tower in Dubai Marina, which at over 400 meters (1,300 feet) is the second-tallest building in Dubai.

Dubai police later issued a statement to the AP saying Kingston “was not arrested, but was asked to sign a statement that he will not attempt to perform such stunts in Dubai.”

“Kingston’s dangerous stunts on buildings in Dubai violated Dubai’s strict regulations prohibiting such activities,” the statement said.

British Embassy officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the AP.

Kingston’s detention is the second major incident involving stunts on Dubai’s skyscrapers. In February, Dubai police contacted a Russian model who posted images online of herself, holding onto only a man’s hand, dangling out over the side of 300-meter (985-foot) Cayan Tower.

“These pictures certainly attract huge numbers of hits on social media. But the risk involved makes them highly questionable,” the state-owned The National newspaper later opined. “Is fleeting social media fame really worth risking your life for? Does it set a good example for others?”

For Kingston, the climbing sees him earn money from selling T-shirts and posters commemorating his stunts, and he’s also written a book about his exploits.

But it may be a bit more than financial. While on top of a Dubai crane in his most-recent video, Kingston stopped to look out on the glittering Burj Khalifa.

He said: “I would love to stand on top of that: Goals.”

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