London – CAGE can today reveal the whereabouts of a distinguished Australian professor and his son who have been missing for four months. Through testimonies obtained from family members and former prisoners, CAGE was able to confirm that Professor Lukman Thalib and his son Ismail Talib are being held arbitrarily by the Qatar authorities and have allegedly been tortured. The Guardian also reported on the case today.

The acclaimed Australian professor Lukman Thalib, who was part of the Scientific Reference and Research Task Force established as part of the response to Covid-19 in Qatar, and his son Ismail Talib, an application security engineer working for Aljazeera, were violently abducted in a night time raid by masked men in plain clothes on July 27th this year.

On the 19th of October, Ahmed Talib, also a son of Professor Luqman, was designated by the US Treasury Department. Ahmed’s home in Australia was raided in a joint operation between Australian Federal Police & Victoria Police. No arrest or charges have been brought forth. Simultaneously, the Sri Lankan authorities, where the family are originally from, called in their extended family members for interrogation. The family strongly believe the arrests in Qatar, the interrogations in Sri Lanka and the raid in Australia are all connected and are a form of collective punishment on the family.

Professor Thalib and his son Ismail were held incommunicado for 37 days. Phone calls to the family were allowed thereafter but only for the father. His son Ismail has not been allowed to speak to his family because he refused to cooperate with interrogators unless he is given legal representation. They both continue to be held without charge or trial or any legal representation.

Family members that spoke to CAGE, have claimed that the two men were  subjected to torture including but not limited to:

  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Sustained loud noises throughout the night.
  • Being kept in a dark room with extremely cold temperatures.
  • Being held in stress positions for extended periods of time.
  • Being forced to consume various compounds and chemicals that make it impossible to fall asleep despite their extreme fatigue.

There are serious fears about their deteriorating medical condition. Professor Thalib is believed to have lost 25kg, is fed liquids only, has missed two Leukaemia check-ups and is on medication for bradycardia (lower heart rate than normal) and hypotension (extremely low blood pressure). His continued incarceration will only further deteriorate his condition. Little is known about his son’s health condition and wellbeing due to the complete legal blackhole they find themselves in.

Maryam Talib, daughter of Professor Thalib said:

“The last few months have been the slowest and most painful days of our life.  We just need my father and brother back home where they belong. We have been deprived of their love and warmth.”

My father is an innocent man. He has spent the last 30 years dedicated to improving the lives of others. He has been involved in over 400 research projects and his work has been cited over 6500 times in research publications. My younger brother, Ismail, is ambitious, passionate about his work and principled by nature. He is always thinking about the best way to give back to society.”

“As Australians we always hold high and champion the values of justice and truth. Unfortunately, during this ongoing ordeal, we have not received the support we needed from our government. We appeal to our fellow citizens to assist us in calling upon our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to take the necessary steps to secure my father and brother’s safe and immediate release.”

Naila Ahmed, Head of Casework at CAGE said:

“Professor Thalib and his son Ismail have had their life overturned in a matter of weeks. They have not only suffered torture, been held in arbitrary detention, but they have also been stripped of their employment without any process. They are likely being prepared for deportation from Qatar. We are deeply concerned for their welfare and call upon the Australian authorities to take immediate action to return them home.”

“The motives behind the torture and secret detention of professor Thalib and his son Ismail remain unclear. However, this action by the Qatar authorities, believed to be in complicity with the US, bear the hallmarks of the early years of the War on Terror during which, governments across the world would abduct and disappear innocent men at the behest of the CIA.”


(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)