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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Scot freed in Iraq after Qatari conviction arrest

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A construction engineer who spent two months in custody in Iraq over a debt conviction in Qatar has been freed.

Brian Glendinning, 43, from Fife, did not know he was on an Interpol list as a wanted fugitive until he was detained in Basra on his way to a new job.

His family last month called on the UK government to intervene.

Campaign group Detained in Dubai said Mr Glendinning was released on Sunday and is expected to return home to Kincardine within days.

His family also confirmed to BBC Scotland that he was a free man.

In 2017 Mr Glendinning, who is married with three children and one granddaughter, was sentenced in his absence to two years in prison for defaulting on a debt.

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He had agreed to take out a £20,000 loan with his bank in Qatar while working in Doha in 2016, but was not able to keep up full repayments when he lost his job.

His family told how he was made redundant in 2017, while on sick leave at home in Scotland, but had kept in touch with the bank not realising he had been convicted of a crime.

Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme last month, his brother John Glendinning said: “I believe Brian did what most parents would do then – what money you’ve got coming in when you’re unemployed you try to keep the house warm and feed the kids.

“But then in Qatar, I believe that’s a crime to them. It’s not just defaulting on a bad credit history as we do here in the UK.”

Brian Glendinning with his granddaughter

Family handout

John said it was devastating to hear his “big brother and best friend” had been detained in Iraq.

And he told how Mr Glendinning was “petrified” after being arrested at Basra airport on 12 September.

Only then did the engineer discover he was on an Interpol red list as a warrant for his arrest had been issued in Qatar.

John revealed he had sold his car to help pay his brother’s legal bills, which within four weeks of his arrest had soared to £30,000.

A crowdfunding appeal set up by the family to help cover legal costs has since raised more than £30,600 of a £40,000 target.

The family also warned football fans going to the World Cup, which starts next Sunday, to be aware of the risks in traveling to Qatar.

Since Mr Glendinning’s arrest they have been supported by Radha Stirling, the founder of Detained in Dubai and IPEX.

She has helped hundreds of people unfairly detained in or at risk of being extradited to the UAE and the Middle East.

These include Conor Howard, an engineer from Tranent, East Lothian. He was held in Greece in 2020, under an Interpol warrant, over a conviction for carrying a herb-grinder on a plane trip that stopped in Doha.

Migrant workers have helped to construct the stadiums that will stage the World Cup

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Ms Stirling last month said Mr Glendinning’s case was a “nightmare” for the family but she was confident they would be able to bring him home.

She told also BBC Scotland he had been “aggressively pursued” to take out a loan by his bank in Qatar, as is” standard practice” there.

Ms Stirling added: “The problem with Qatar banks is when they want to pursue someone on Interpol to put pressure on the family to pay the debt, they add legal fees and charges to get the amount over the Interpol threshold, which is €15,000, then wait for that person to be detained and put pressure on their parents or their families to sell assets or use their life’s savings to bail out their child.”

The Foreign Office previously confirmed it was providing support to Mr Glendinning and was in touch with the local authorities in Iraq.

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