Thursday, May 19, 2005

Archival Rescue 32 ~ Aus Outsourced Torture & Detention

Department says no Australians at interrogation
By Marian Wilkinson and Joseph Kerr May 19, 2005 Sydney Morning Herald

The brother of the Australian citizen Tllaal Adrey, who is being held on terrorism charges in Kuwait, says Adrey has been badly beaten in custody and is suffering injuries to his legs, hands and face that indicate he has been tortured.

Speaking through a family friend, Fahed al-Saad told the Herald relatives who had seen his brother in prison described his account of beatings and interrogation sessions where Adrey claimed he saw two "blond Westerners in suits who he believed spoke with Australian accents" after his blindfold slipped on his face.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday denied any Australians had been present during Adrey's interrogations. "No Australian government officials were present during any interviews, nor have had any access to Mr Adrey," she said.

Adrey told his mother, who visited him in the Kuwaiti prison over the past month, that he had demanded during his interrogation sessions to see an Australian official. But, he told his mother, his interrogators claimed "they are already here; they are watching".

The parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, Bruce Billson, said the Australian Government had attempted on 16 occasions to get access to Adrey since he was arrested by the Kuwait State Security Unit in February.

He said the seriousness of the charges could be one reason why access had been refused but Australian officials hoped to gain access in a few days.

The case was reported on the ABC's 7.30 Report.

On Tuesday, the acting Australian ambassador to Kuwait met the country's Interior Minister. A Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said the Kuwaitis originally denied holding Adrey but later refused access to him on the grounds that he had not been charged with an offence.

Last week, Australian officials were turned away from the prison where Adrey is held. Adrey was arrested during a security clampdown in February after an outbreak of violence in the country, including running gun battles with opponents of the Kuwaiti regime.

He was accused of being involved with terrorism and handling weapons and explosives. His brother says the allegations have no basis.

"They did not find even a bullet in the house," he said.

In late April, Adrey wrote to the Australian embassy in Kuwait from prison, accusing the embassy of failing to protect an Australian citizen "knowing that I was severely beaten and was abused".

In the letter he accused the embassy of "showing nothing but racism" and said, "I am absolutely sure that I will be exonerated and will face you and confront you before the law when you will be asked about your failure to assist me in order that I can achieve my rights in such a simple situation".

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that during a phone call to the consulate on Tuesday, Adrey alleged he had been forced to make confessions against his will - allegations that the Australian embassy would follow up with Kuwaiti authorities. Adrey and his brother came to Australia as refugees after the first Gulf War.


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