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May 24, 2020

Detained Qatari Sheikh’s wife demands husband’s release

National

May 24, 2020

LONDON: Detained Qatari Sheikh Talal Al-Thani has been exonerated by the judiciary and yet authorities have imprisoned him, his wife said.

Sheikh Talal, who has been detained for seven years without charge, is the grandson of the late Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al-Thani, the former emir of Qatar who reigned from 1960 until 1972.

Sheikh Ahmad was deposed by his cousin Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, grandfather of Tamim bin Hamad, Qatar’s current emir.

Tensions between family members escalated following the death of one of Qatar’s founders, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ahmed, after his exile in Saudi Arabia in 2008. Shortly afterwards, Sheikh Talal’s assets were frozen and the inheritance he was due to receive after his father’s death withheld, reported foreign media.

“As we are approaching the end of Ramazan, the month of mercy, Qatar continues to be stubborn and refuse the release of Sheikh Talal," Sheikh Talal’s wife Asma Arian said in a video that she tweeted on Thursday. "Even human rights organisations have requested the release of all prisoners due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the central jail."

She told her husband not to submit to pressure from Qatari authorities, who she claims have tried to blackmail him. Her daughter also appeared in the video, pleading for her father to be released.

Last month, Arian issued a similar statement where she accused Qatari authorities of torturing her husband and subjecting him to degrading and inhumane treatment.

Arian, who married Sheikh Talal in 2007, said at the time that his lack of access to any funds meant he was unable to pay his debts and was jailed. “He was trapped into a conspiracy of signing cheques. It was a set-up to make him go into business. They managed to make him sign the cheques, and through that he was an easy target to put in jail,” she said at a conference in 2019.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya last year, Arian said that she and her family had been forced by the Qatari regime to live in dire conditions, placed in poor housing, and “prevented from obtaining basic health care and education.”

The family live in Arian’s native Germany and have been self-isolating, which has been especially tough, she said in a tweet. “The last few days have been tough with the children and I self-isolating at home in Germany because of #coronavirus. 7 days and we’re finding the isolation hard. Even more thinking of my husband who has endured 7 years of arbitrary detention in the jails of Qatar,” the March 19 tweet read.