News State NSW News Aussie ‘spy’ returns home after Middle East pardon

Aussie ‘spy’ returns home after Middle East pardon

An elated Naim Aziz Abbas is back on home soil after his arrest in Dubai in 2017. Photo: ABC
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A Sydney man who has spent more than a year jailed in the Middle East for espionage has arrived home after being pardoned.

The Iraqi-born Australian citizen had moved to Dubai in 2009 to work for the United Arab Emirates Roads and Transport Authority.

Mr Abbas was sentenced to five years’ jail in December last year, and made an emotional plea for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bring him home.

The former Sydney train driver arrived at Sydney Airport on Friday night and was welcomed by dozens of family and supporters.

The family of detained Australian Naim Aziz Abbas were relieved to have him home after more than a year jailed in the Middle East. Photo: ABC

Mr Abbas sang the Australian anthem to the small crowd and thanked those who supported him during his incarceration.

“If you are Australian you should be proud. Australia will never let you down,” he said.

“Thank you Australia, thank you Prime Minister.”

Mr Abbas was philosophical about his incarceration.

“As Ned Kelly said: ‘Such is life.'”

Torture fears

Mr Abbas’s family had expressed fears that he had been tortured in prison, but when asked about his treatment, the 65-year-old said he could not talk about it.

“I cannot comment on this one, please forgive me,” he said.

“Tonight is party night!”

His brother Adil Abbas was overwhelmed with emotion at the airport and said Mr Abbas, who has diabetes, had been pardoned at the beginning of Ramadan.

“It’s the happiest moment in my life because we have been very worried about his welfare.

“He was sick, he was an old man and he was innocent.”

He said the family had been worried about his brother’s treatment in the UAE.

“In jail it was good but during the investigation it was very hard.

“It’s something you cannot imagine.”

Thousands of prisoners in the UAE were pardoned ahead of the holy month.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed it provided consular assistance to Mr Abbas but said it could not comment further.