British father talks about rat ordeal after being released from Iraqi jail

A British father who was detained in Iraq over an alleged unpaid debt has recounted the horrific conditions he endured in prison where he saw rats the size of cats.

Brian Glendinning, 43, said he “hit the pause button” on his life during two months in jail, where getting through the days was just “survival.”

He had been hired to work at an oil refinery in Iraq, but was arrested on an Interpol red notice at Baghdad airport on September 12 over an alleged debt to the National Bank of Qatar.

If you’ve seen Trainspotting and the bathroom scene in it, it was 10 times worse, there were just rats everywhere.

Brian Glendinning

The father-of-three was finally released after campaigning for the Interpol and Extradition Reform (Ipex) initiative, returning to Scotland on November 19.

He described his experiences to Ipex founder Radha Stirling, who hosts the Gulf in Justice podcast.

Glendinning said rats infested the toilets in the cell he shared, making it difficult to sleep.

He said: “I looked and I saw this rat running past, this thing was the size of a cat. They got out of the toilet, it was just a hole in the floor.

“If you’ve seen Trainspotting and the bathroom scene in it, it was 10 times worse, there were just rats everywhere.

“For four nights I watched these rats all night and never slept.”

While she eventually managed to sleep after noticing the rats weren’t leaving the bathroom area, she said she had to put up with constant noise and no hot water during her time in prison.

He said: “The mental torture every day, it was the noise, the mob and the voices, a fan, there was a generator right outside the window, the fumes coming from the generator, headache.”

Glendinning said he saw police beating other prisoners and that although he was not beaten himself, guards were “heavy-handed” with him, pushing him as he walked.

He said he initially feared he would be extradited to Qatar and would have to spend two years in jail.

When asked about the worst moments of his ordeal, he told Ms Stirling: “The worst was the initial phone call home to tell them, ‘by the way, I’m locked in here and I don’t think I’m coming out.’

“And then when I managed to get my hands on the official paperwork and I read the words ‘you were sentenced to two years in prison in Qatar in 2017 in your absence, Qatar wanted you extradited’, and my world just fell apart.

“I already had the phone call to Kimberley (his wife) fixed in my head saying, ‘listen, just get on with your life, I’m not going to be there, don’t even bother coming here to see me.’ I didn’t want the kids to come here, I basically ruled myself out.

“When I went in, I hit the pause button on my life, and when I came back out, I hit play again, but I thought the pause button was going to be a lot longer than it was.

“That was not life there, for me, that was survival, an existence, and it is something that I do not want to remember again, that’s why I pressed pause.”

Mr Glendinning, from Kincardine, Fife, said he is incredibly grateful to his friends and family and all who worked to bring him home.

He said: “The best moment was the day I heard it was coming out, I didn’t even know it was coming. And after that was when the plane landed at Edinburgh airport and I knew I was home.”

Ms Stirling said: “I am privileged to have been able to help this loving family that I have come to know.

“I am grateful for their energy and dedication in supporting the campaign to free Brian.”

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