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The UAE pardons Australian man jailed on spying charges

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2 months 3 weeks

The UAE pardons Australian man jailed on spying charges

An Australian man who spent over a year and a half imprisoned in the UAE on espionage charges has been released.

Naim Aziz Abbas, a 65-year-old former Sydney train driver, was convicted in a case his brother Adil Abbas described as a "complete injustice" for allegedly passing secrets to neighbouring Qatar. While detained, Abbas was reportedly tortured by UAE interrogators.

The Sydney man was arrested in October 2017, at a time when tensions between the UAE and Qatar were rising. He had moved to the UAE for a job with the Gulf state's Roads and Transport Authority in 2008.

In November 2018, Naim was sentenced to five years in jail, a fine of about $2000 and deportation on release.

Adil said his brother was a sociable man who had made comments that were favourable about Qatar, which might have got him in trouble.

"He spoke about Qatar nicely and he didn’t realise those people they can’t tolerate people talking about Qatar nicely," Adil said.

"Maybe they think my brother, he was working against them."

But Adil said his brother loved the UAE before he was arrested.

"He was always supporting the UAE and during his visits he was working like a UAE ambassador, saying good things about the government and the people," Adil said.

In 2017, the UAE criminalised public expressions of sympathy for Qatar.

Adil said the charges of spying were fabricated and that Naim was tortured in jail, especially through the deprivation of contact with outsiders.

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