London – Australian citizens Professor Lukman Thalib and his son Ismail Talib, have arrived in Turkey where they will receive urgent medical attention after being released after nearly six months of secret detention in Qatar. 

When their condition has stabilised they will be making the long journey back home to Australia.

However, a series of pressing questions have emerged around the complicity of Australia in their detention. We can reveal that:

  • Australian authorities knew of the arrest of the two men as early as the 28th July 2020, one day after their arrest. Australian security services used this information to question Muslims in Australia about the Thalibs;
  • Australian embassy officials visited the Thalibs while they were held in secret detention at least as early as November, when Professor Lukman detailed his torture to an official – but neither was the secret location or the torture communicated to the family;
  • An embassy official told the family they did not see any visible effects of torture and did not have any concerns – despite hearing details of it (see below); 
  • There was a sustained lack of support for the family despite, especially with regards to investigating the claims of torture, ensuring the men receive independent medical support and in securing their release. 

Furthermore, we have recorded the following torture methods: 

  • being held in stress positions for prolonged periods;
  • facing threats against family members;
  • undergoing sleep deprivation and sensory bombardment (the use of harsh lights 24/7);
  • being kept in solitary confinement;
  • being gassed with noxious gasses to dull their senses.  

Naila Ahmed, head of casework at CAGE, said:

“We are overjoyed at the release of Professor Lukman Thalib and his son Ismail Talib from their arbitrary and torturous detention in Qatar.”

“It is crucial that Australia give a full explanation regarding their level of complicity in all of this, and why their support was lacking to the Thalib family, a clear violation of their duty to protect their citizens from torture.”

Maryam Talib, the daughter of professor Thalib said:  

“As a family we were overwhelmed with joy when we heard my father and brother were being released. We really couldn’t believe it. Currently their recovery and health are our only priorities, so we will be taking all the means to this end during their stay with me in Turkey.”

“We have still not received any formal allegations or justification for what has happened. Sadly, there are many unanswered questions we have as a family pertaining to the negligence and unjustifiable complacency of the Australian government and embassy in Qatar.”

“We have very strong reasons to believe our government was aware of their detention from the very early days after they were kidnapped, however they preferred to do very little, even as it unfolded over the next five months that two of their citizens were being tortured.”

(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.)