An Ottawa man abducted from a Bahrain airport in March and tortured underground for a month has been sentenced to five years in Bahrain prison, has days to turn himself in, and is begging the Canadian government to intervene.
“I feel terrified,” said Naser Al Raas from Manama, Bahrain.
“It means my death. I can’t take all that torture again.”
Doctors Without Borders confirms he was abused.
Al Raas is turning 29 on Nov. 14 and could be spending his birthday behind bars.
Last week, a civilian court convicted him for “gathering” and “spreading false news” — violating Bahrain’s illegal-assembly laws — after attending an anti-government demonstration seven months ago.
Al Raas was also tried and acquitted in military court for kidnapping a police officer.
Now, his younger brother in Ottawa says the problem is, he knows too much.
“His only mistake, only fault, is that he saw what’s happening in Bahrain. That’s why they won’t let him leave,” said Sadeq Al Raas.
Naser Al Raas flew to Bahrain in early March to visit family.
He was living in Kuwait and booked a March 20 return flight.
Al Raas was abducted at the airport then taken to Al-Qala’a prison and kept in solitary confinement for one month.
He says he was beaten with sticks, hoses and plastic pipes, shocked, threatened with rape, and woken up to be assaulted by masked men.
Al Raas has a heart condition and “just asking for his medication, they start to beat him up,” said Sadeq Al Raas.
The younger Al Raas flew to Bahrain last month to see his brother, who’s lost more than 70 lbs due to stress.
“When we saw him, my mom was crying,” he said.
Now he just wants to bring his brother home.
Naser’s Canadian passport, identification and cellphones still haven’t been returned, and the family is critical of the feds.
“They’ve done nothing,” said Sadeq Al Raas.
But John Babcock, a spokesman for minister of state of foreign affairs Diane Ablonczy, says the feds are “aware and concerned of reports that Mr. Al Raas was mistreated while in detention in Bahrain. These concerns have been raised with the appropriate senior authorities.”
The government has asked Bahraini authorities to “seek assurances that the individual is afforded due process and to ensure his well-being,” said Babcock.
In Bahrain, Al Raas’ fiancee is hoping Canada will act fast.
“If the Canadian government (doesn’t) intervene now it would be too late to save Naser’s life,” said Zainab Ahmed.
Al Raas’ appeal will be heard Nov. 22.