The family of a Sydney man accused of spying in the United Arab Emirates fears he may have been tortured in prison and could soon face the death penalty.
Relatives of Naim Aziz Abbas have made an emotional plea to be able to see the 63-year-old who was arrested in Dubai in October 2017, after being questioned by an intelligence officer during a series of meetings in a coffee shop.
“I ask you Australia, please help my brother”, a tearful Adil Aziz Abbas told the ABC from his Sydney home.
“The case is fabricated and he’s being accused of espionage for Qatar against Dubai, and this is ridiculous.”
Iraqi-born Naim Aziz Abbas, who is an Australian citizen, moved to Dubai in 2009 to work for the UAE Roads and Transport Authority.
According to a Department of Foreign Affairs report seen by the ABC, an Australian diplomat met with the UAE’s State Security Prosecutor on February 8 to discuss the case and to seek consular access to Mr Abbas.
The DFAT report said the prosecutor confirmed Mr Abbas’s mobile phone was, “currently undergoing forensic testing and the investigators were still speaking to witnesses”.
Adil Abbas insisted his older brother was innocent and was being made a “scapegoat” because of his friendships with people from Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.
“He’s a law-abiding Australian citizen, he has a very kind heart, he never broke the law and he never caused harm to anyone,” he said.
Worried for his health
Mr Abbas said his sibling is a diabetic who requires constant medication and care, and he fears Naim has been tortured while in detention.
“The Emirates told the [Australian] embassy he’s in good health but I doubt that, he’s a diabetic,” Mr Abbas said.
In the UAE, multiple crimes including espionage are punishable by death, usually by firing squad.
DFAT has confirmed its officials are trying to get access to Naim Abbas in prison, but have not yet been successful.
A DFAT spokesperson said it was, “providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian man detained in the United Arab Emirates”.
“As per the consular charter, we are seeking permission to visit the man in detention,” the spokesman added.