Brian Glendinning returned home to Scotland after being detained in an Iraqi jail over a Qatar issued Interpol Red Notice for debt. After extensive campaigning, he was finally released and avoided what was set to be at least two years in prison. His welcomed return to Scotland though, has left him feeling immense sadness for his 36 year old cellmate, Hussein Yactine, who helped him survive the ordeal.
Hussein has been in detention in Iraq for over one year for the same reasons as Brian, a Qatar bank debt. The pair still communicate frequently after Brian promised not to forget him. “Hussein doesn’t have the support of his country, Lebanon”, explained Brian, “they don’t have the clout or the inclination to help citizens wrongfully detained abroad and Hussein’s helpless against this unjust process. I could easily have been in his shoes if it weren’t for the legal and diplomatic efforts made on my behalf. I was lucky and I think everyone knows how unfair my detention was. It seems shocking to me that our country has supported Qatar’s rise while they continue to violate international treaties and protocols on human rights issues”.
Brian told the BBC that Brits should not be supporting the World Cup and should avoid visiting or investing in Qatar. “If a private commercial bank has the ability to have foreigners locked up abroad even though it’s against Interpol’s protocols and against UN directives, nobody should feel safe”, added Brian.
When Brian was released from prison, Hussein put a handwritten note in his bag which read “Congrats bro because you left from here. I’m really happy that you’re going to your country to see your wife and kids. I hope you will never forget your friend, Hussein”.
In a recorded telephone call, Hussein pleaded with Brian “I need your help. I can not stay here any more. My month is long, nobody is helping, nobody is doing anything. I hope your friend Radha can help me. I have family, three kids, I don’t have anybody, you know my situation.”
Interpol and Extradition expert Radha Stirling, who represented Brian Glendinning commented “Jailing debtors works for banks, or so they say. When debtors are arrested, banks hope that family members will bail them out but for the most part, family members end up spending their life savings on hefty legal fees. It’s counter-productive but the bank would rather punish their customer than recover the funds owed. In most of these cases, the customer is already in touch with the bank, organising a repayment scheme but they are jailed anyway. These are not fraudsters who took a loan and absconded. Most defaulting customers have hit hard times or suffered a health issue. They genuinely want to repay the loan. They’re not criminals and shouldn’t be treated as such. Interpol is being misused as a debt collector for banks but financial contributions from member states leave the organisation morally bankrupt”.
Brian continued, “Hussein was such a support for me while I was in prison. I don’t know if I’d have survived without him. 2 months in Iraq prison was breaking for me and I can’t believe he has already spent a year inside. These banks have no humanity and Brits should avoid Qatar at all costs. People have been jailed over as little as a few thousand pounds and nobody should ever think ‘it can’t happen to me’. Banks add whatever legal fees or interest they want and will quadruple the debt because they have jail hanging over your head”.
Brian is calling on the British government to raise this concern with Qatar. “They need to update the law. They can’t keep allowing their ally to jail foreigners abroad. It’s outrageous”.
Stirling, who founded the organisation Detained in Doha said she will be in touch with Hussein’s bank and Qatar’s Ministry of Interior. “If Qatar withdraws the extradition request from Iraq, Hussein will be able to return home and seek employment to enable him to continue repayments. There is no benefit to keeping him locked up or extraditing him to lock him up for another few years. It makes no sense. Let him work and let him repay the loan. He has no savings or family to help him and there is no point at all to keep him in prison. We also hope the MOI in Qatar will guide banks to reserve such harsh tactics for genuine financial crime”.