Three Qataris 'beaten and tortured' by UAE state security, UK lawsuit alleges

Three Qataris 'beaten and tortured' by UAE state security, UK lawsuit alleges
Update: Three prominent Qataris were allegedly illegally imprisoned and threatened with rape by UAE security officers according to a lawsuit filed in Britain.
5 min read
13 September, 2017
Three prominent Qataris were allegedly illegally imprisoned and tortured [TNA/Ahmed al-Dawoodi]
This is a developing story. Make sure to check back for updates throughout the day.

Three Qatari officials were kidnapped by the UAE security services and held illegally for months, during which they were beaten and tortured, it has been alleged.

Mahmoud al-Jaidah, Hamad Ali Mohammed Ali al-Hammadi and Yousef Abdul Samad al-Mullah have given evidence stating they were on innocuous visits to the UAE when they were seized and accused of a variety of crimes, from espionage to membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"They blindfolded me and tortured me. I was put into questioning and they started to interrogate me with various questions about Qatar and its foreign policy. They started to ask me if Qatar is supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and why," al-Jaidah told The New Arab.

Al-Jaidah was detained despite the fact that his wife was sick and at hospital. He also says before he was forced into a false confession, he was given a bottle of water which he believes may have been spiked with some sort of a drug.

Al-Jaidah is a physician and director of medical services at Qatar Petroleum.

Al-Hammadi is the personal assistant to the head of Qatar's State Security Service.

"When I was first detained, the Qatari authorities had tried to get ahold of me, but the UAE told the Qatari authorities that I had not even entered the country," al-Hammadi told The New Arab.

"They took my blood, knowing I have kidney disease. I was denied all medical treatment and was completely locked out of the world," he added.

Al-Mullah is a friend and former colleague of al-Hammadi. They met when working at the University of Cairo. Al-Mullah now works for the Ministry of the Interior in the General Directorate of Passports.

"This is not only about clearing our names and reputations. There are countless others from all over the world currently being tortured and detained illegally in UAE prisons," said Mahmoud al-Jaidah.

Alleged timeline of events:
    • 26 February 2013: Al-Jaidah visits the UAE and is approached by a man in civilian clothing at Dubai airport. He is taken to a room where he is searched and his luggage and possessions seized. He is denied a lawyer, then blindfolded, detained and drugged
    • March 2013: Al-Jaidah is forced to record a 'confession' and an apology to the UAE. He is told that making the film will secure his release, but is kept in solitary confinement for another 8.5 months
    • May 2013: After 90 days in solitary confinement, al-Jaidah is transferred to the Public Prosecution office. Al-Jaidah tells the Public Prosecutor he has been tortured
    • 3 November, 2013: Al-Jaidah is transferred to the Federal Supreme court. The judge ignores his testimony of torture and illness. Over several consecutive court sessions, al-Jaidah is denied the right to defend himself
    • 3 March 2014: Al-Jaidah is sentenced to seven years in prison
    • 22 May 2015: Al-Jaidah is released after an agreement between the UAE and Qatari governments - after 27 months of incarceration, the vast majority of which has been spent in solitary confinement.
    • 27 June 2014: Al-Hammadi and Al-Mullah are driving in separate cars to the UAE for a family visit. They are stopped by UAE border officials at the al-Ghuwaifat crossing between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Al Mullah is searched and has his possessions seized. He is then blindfolded and handcuffed and driven to a detention centre where he is made to change into a uniform and has blood samples taken. He is taken to an interrogation room and accused of espionage and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood
    • 19 March 2015: Al-Mullah released, after nine months of solitary confinement
    • 18 May 2015: Al-Hammadi sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 10 million dirhams ($2.72m)
    • 22 May 2015: Al-Hammadi is released after 11 months of incarceration.

  • 5 June 2017: Gulf diplomatic crisis steps up a gear, with Saudi, UAE and Egyptian diplomats pulled from Doha, and Qatar diplomats expelled from Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Cairo
  • 22-28 June 2017: The false confessions are aired on Abu Dhabi TV and Sky News Arabia

"We are bringing this complaint in London because we know that this city will not allow itself to become a safe-haven for torturers."

British Human rights lawyer Rodney Dixon QC of Temple Garden Chambers is handling their complaint, which is being investigated by London's Metropolitan Police under universal jurisdiction laws - for crimes such as torture, the UK may seek arrest warrants should the accused enter the country.

The complaint names 10 prominent UAE security officials, including a cabinet minister and a former head of national security.

The three Qatari victims were allegedly held for more than two years, released in 2015 under an agreement between the UAE and Qatar.

They had been subjected to beatings, electric shocks, solitary confinement, forced sleep deprivation and threats of being raped and murdered.

They were allegedly forced into confessions, which were later aired on Abu Dhabi TV and Sky News Arabia.

"At the time of their release, in order to avoid any deterioration in relations with the UAE, the Qatari government settled the matter amicably and compensated its citizens. The forced confessions were never made public," Rodney Dixon QC's office said in a statement.

"However, following the recent breakdown of relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, in June 2017, the forced confessions were publicly broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV and Sky News Arabia."

The fact that the case is being forwarded to the Metropolitan Police brings British law enforcement into the Gulf diplomatic crisis. Any investigation, or lack of investigation, may well end up affecting British foreign policy in a restive region in a post-Brexit era, when Whitehall is desperate for trade deals - notably arms sales.

However, Dixon QC had urged that this move is not political and it is only a matter of pressing on human rights. He claimed that this will not drag the UK into the current GCC diplomatic crisis.

"This is just the very beginning. We have filed a complaint with the Metropolitan Police and requested them to open an investigation," he told The New Arab.

The New Arab has contacted the UAE embassy in London for a comment but has yet to receive a reply.

This is a developing story. Make sure to check back for updates throughout the day. Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab