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Australian hostage in Qatar - “Don’t come to World Cup”

72 year old Joe Sarlak was scapegoated and has been held in Qatar for years.

Australian grandfather Joe Sarlak says he is the perfect example of why Qatar should not be hosting the World Cup. Joe Sarlak, 72, was in a squalid jail for more than two and a half years in the Middle Eastern country; And while he has now been cleared and released, ongoing legal proceedings - which his lawyers say are being filed purely to keep him in the country - mean he's banned from leaving. He is now a permanent hostage.

Joe was used as a scapegoat by the Qatari royal who was his local sponsor. His sponsor had secretly looted Sarlak’s business to pay for his own financial obligations, leaving business cheques to bounce that would see Sarlak locked up for years in Doha’s disastrous desert prison.

Joe is now in complete limbo and spends his days in his single room. He told Chris Sweeney: “I don’t know if tomorrow I’ll be alive, I’ve got heart problems, high blood pressure, prostate problems, I’ve got one kidney and all the things you get in old age. I haven’t been to a hospital in three years to change my medication, I take 11 tablets a day and nobody can hear me, even with our own [Australian] embassy, sadly everything has become commerce. They just say if your health is OK, that’s all we can do. I asked them, ‘At least write to the foreign minister and ask what is happening with me, at least I would feel someone is looking over my shoulder, but even that doesn’t happen.”

Sarlak explained: “That is what people should know, once you get here you are infidel to them as foreigners. It doesn’t matter if you have blue eyes or are a black fella from Africa, it’s the same, you are foreigners.

“They are very good at the advertisements, everything is glossy and looks really pretty, but you’re walking on a razor blade edge.

“If you go to see the lawyers or chartered accountants, of course they tell you a beautiful picture about the place, but it’s not so.

“Qatar should not have the privilege of hosting the World Cup. In doing so, thousands of visitors are being put in danger”, concludes Sarlak.

“It is unbelievable that 72 year old Joe is still being held as a hostage in Qatar. The country has stolen his life and his family fear he will die there, separated from them”, explains Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Doha, who has been advocating for Joe’s release. “It is disgraceful that the Australian government has not stepped up to diplomatically intervene and has not highlighted his plight during the months leading up to the World Cup. When abuses like this continue, allowing the World Cup to be hosted in Doha is an insult to the many human rights victims that the Qatari government continues to torture”.

Related resources and articles:


CLAN - Crypto Legal Advocacy Network -

Due Process International:

IPEX - Interpol & Extradition Reform & Defence Experts -


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