August 26, 2015
By Olivia Carville
The screams of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi — who relatives say has been unlawfully detained for a year in Abu Dhabi — would echo through the concrete passageways of the prison and into his brother’s solitary confinement cell.
Mohamed Elaradi, now a free man, told the Star the sound of his brother’s tortured cries still fills his head every night, leaving him in tears.
The brothers (who spell their surnames differently) were detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) without charge on Aug. 28, last year — and Salim Alaradi is still behind bars.
“I have been informed that the reason my brother was not released is because the marks of torture on his body are so bad that they will require a period of not less than a year to heal and disappear — only then will he be released,” Elaradi said.
Amnesty International says Alaradi, a 46-year-old businessman and father of five, has not faced any charges or been given the right to speak to a lawyer.
The plight of Alaradi, who has dual Libyan and Canadian citizenship, recently reached Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office after a coalition of advocacy organizations called on the government to intervene.
Alaradi’s basic human rights have been violated for a year now, Amnesty International and six other organizations wrote to Harper, asking him to “vigorously” intervene.
Alaradi’s wife and children, who moved back to Canada last year to seek help from the government, say he has been tortured, forbidden from making phone calls and suffered major weight loss in the Al Wathba Prison.
Marwa Alaradi, his eldest daughter, has been attending high school in Windsor while leading a social media campaign to raise awareness of her father’s imprisonment.
“I can’t even explain how much I miss him,” the 18-year-old told the Star. “I hope the government will help free him. I’m waiting for that moment and praying to God he comes back to us.”
Her two youngest sisters, aged 7 and 4, struggle to remember their father, she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed “consular services” are being provided to a citizen detained in the UAE. A spokesperson said further details would not be released to “protect the privacy of the individual.”
Multiple phone calls and emails from the Star to the UAE ambassador’s office in Ottawa and the UAE Attorney General in Abu Dhabi went unanswered over the past two weeks.
Alaradi and his family immigrated to Canada in 1998. They lived in Vancouver for nine years before returning to Dubai, where Alaradi and Elaradi co-owned a global home appliances company, Marwa Alaradi said.
Last August, Alaradi was summoned outside by a midnight phone call and forced into a black car, she said.
On the same night, Elaradi and 10 other Libyan-born men were detained without charge across the city, according to Amnesty International.
They were blindfolded, handcuffed and placed in solitary confinement cells, Elaradi — who was released after four months — told the Star via email from Doha, Qatar.
During his imprisonment, Elaradi claims he was severely beaten, forced to stand for 23 hours a day and tied to an electric chair, drenched with cold water and placed under a cold air conditioner. Elaradi said he could hear his brother “screaming so loud” in a nearby cell.
In December, Elaradi was released and deported to Istanbul with no explanation for his imprisonment, he said.The Star could not confirm Elaradi’s account of torture, but Amnesty International Middle East researcher Drewery Dyke, who has been studying the case, said it was consistent with other reports.
“All we can say is that it regrettably appears credible — and I don’t say that lightly,” Dyke said.
The two brothers have never been involved in politics, but their older brother, Abdulrazag, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Elaradi said, adding he was interrogated about the Sunni Islamist organization.
Dyke corroborated Elaradi’s story and said the majority of the unlawful detainment cases in the UAE have centred on allegations of links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
This was likely caused by heightened security over the growing numbers of Emirati nationals joining ranks with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, Dyke said — but, he added, it was “frankly inexplicable” that the country’s sense of justice had slipped to such a degree.