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Friday, August 6, 2021

Australian professor and son detained in Qatar for six months without charge finally released

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Both detainees claim they were tortured in a Qatari prison during their arbitrary detention.

A former Qatar University Professor and his 24 year old son who were detained in Qatar without charge have been released by authorities, the British Guardian newspaper has reported.

Lukman Thalib, 58, who headed the Department of Public Health at Qatar University and his son Ismail were allowed to leave Qatar last week. According to CAGE, a London based advocacy group, the pair are now in Turkey where they are receiving medical treatment before heading back to their home in Australia.  

“Currently their recovery and health are our only priorities, so we will be taking all the means to this end during their stay with me in Turkey,”  said Maryam Talib, professor Thalib’s daughter. 

Both men were arrested from their home on July 27th by security forces in Doha and were reportedly exposed to psychological torture during their time in prison, according to CAGE. 

Read more: Australian university professor and son detained in Qatar for five months without charge.

Qatar has not charged Thalib or his son, who trace their family roots to Srilanka, with any crime. However when the story of the pair’s detention first broke, a source told Doha News that it was ‘a terrorism related case’. 

“We have still not received any formal allegations or justification for what has happened. Sadly, there are many unanswered questions we have as a family pertaining to the negligence and unjustifiable complacency of the Australian government and embassy in Qatar,” the daughter added.

The family says they continuously reached out to the Australian government for assistance through the embassy in Doha; however, they claim the level of support was inadequate.

CAGE has revealed that  Australian authorities knew of the arrest as early as the 28th July 2020, less than 24 hours after their arrest. Australian security services later used this information to question members of the Muslim community in Australia about the Thalibs.

“It is crucial that Australia give a full explanation regarding their level of complicity in all of this, and why their support was lacking to the Thalib family, a clear violation of their duty to protect their citizens from torture,” said Naila Ahmed, head of casework at CAGE.

It is believed their detention was at the request of US intelligence officials acting on information provided by Sri Lankan authorities. Three months prior to the arrest, Thalib’s other son, who lives in Melbourne  – Ahmed Luqman Thalib – was accused of providing “financial or material support” to Al-Qa’idat through his gemstone company which is based in the Australian capital.

Doha and Washington have a memorandum of understanding which was signed back in 2017 on countering and combatting terrorism.

The US State Department issued a statement on the Professor’s Australia based son claiming that “Thalib has had financial dealings in a number of countries, and his business dealing in gemstones has provided him the ability to move funds internationally for the benefit of AQ.”

Despite the US’ claims, Ahmed remains free, and has not been arrested or charged by the Australian police.

Doha News has reached out to Qatar’s Government Communications Office and the National Human Rights Committee for comment but have not received any response at the time of publication.

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