Wife of Qatar’s detained Sheikh Talal makes desperate plea to UN

Wife of Qatar’s detained Sheikh Talal makes desperate plea to UN
Sheikh Talal's wife says Qatari authorities tricked him into a debt default and locked him up for 22 years. (Screengrab)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Wife of Qatar’s detained Sheikh Talal makes desperate plea to UN

Wife of Qatar’s detained Sheikh Talal makes desperate plea to UN
  • Asma Arian, wife of Sheikh Talal bin Abdul Al-Thani, appealed at the UN Human Rights Council for her husband's release
  • Statement coincides with report on arbitrary detention that strongly criticizes Qatar

LONDON: The wife of a Qatari royal languishing in a Doha prison made a desperate appeal to the UN Human Rights Council Monday for her husband’s release.

Sheikh Talal bin Abdul Al-Thani, a grandson of the former emir Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al-Thani, has been in prison for seven years.

His wife, Asma Arian, says he has been tortured and ill-treated by the Qatari authorities and denied medical care as his health deteriorates.

She delivered a statement to the Geneva-based council on a report by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Qatar, which it visited last year.

“He’s been arbitrarily detained in Qatar for over seven years — years of suffering for our children and me, and torture and despair for him,” Arian, who lives in Germany with her four children, said.

“He’s in incommunicado detention and suffers from severe medical conditions he developed in prison.

“My husband needs urgent medical care and a lawyer he chooses freely.”

Arian says her husband was detained in 2013 after he requested his inheritance from the government. She said Sheikh Talal was duped into signing security checks that it said would underwrite commercial projects through which he would be paid.

“Their projects proved fictitious, designed to trap my husband in fabricated charges of defaulting on his debts,” she said.

He was given a 22 year prison sentence without a proper trial.

The UN working group’s report explicitly criticized Doha for imprisoning large numbers of people for defaulting on debt and the use of “guarantee cheques” to secure loans.

“We call on Qatar to abide by the recommendations of the working group and release my husband immediately, and respect his rights while he’s in detention,” Arian said.

The report made a series of recommendations for Qatar, including raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 and abolishing the system of male guardianship over women.

Sheikh Talal’s plight has been linked to the decades of infighting within the Qatari royal family.

His grandfather, who reigned from 1960 until 1972, was deposed by his cousin Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, grandfather of Qatar’s current emir, Sheikh Tamim.


UK slams ‘illegal’ Israeli settlement plans 

The UK’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa on Monday slammed the Israeli government’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank. (Reuters/File Photo)
The UK’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa on Monday slammed the Israeli government’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 50 min 51 sec ago

UK slams ‘illegal’ Israeli settlement plans 

The UK’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa on Monday slammed the Israeli government’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Britain ‘seriously concerned’ by decision to approve 780 new units in West Bank

LONDON: The UK’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa on Monday slammed the Israeli government’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank.

In a statement issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), James Cleverly said the UK is “seriously concerned by Israel’s decision to approve 780 new settlement units in the West Bank. We urge Israel not to proceed with their construction.” 

He added: “Settlements are illegal under international law and risk undermining the physical viability of the two state solution.”

The new plans were announced on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Sunday, a government committee moved to ratify the construction of some 365 homes while giving preliminary approval for another 415, according to Israeli anti-settlement campaign group Peace Now.

An FCDO spokesman called for the construction of settlements “in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank to cease immediately.”

In November, Cleverly criticized Israel’s decision to start proceedings for the construction of 1,257 settlement homes in Givat HaMatos.