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Kuwait: Tallaal Adrey meets Australian consular officials for the first time since he was imprisoned.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

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PM

 

Monday 30 May 2005

Kuwait: Tallaal Adrey meets Australian consular officials for the first time since he was imprisoned

 

MARK COLVIN: Tallaal Adrey has met Australian consu lar officials in Kuwait for the first time since he was imprisoned three months ago. The 30-year-old Australian was arrested on terrorism charges. 

 

The Federal Government says Tallaal Adrey was in excellent health despite his claims that he'd been tortured. But the Federal Parliamentary Secretary, Bruce Billson, says the officials will pursue the allegations. 

 

Lisa Millar reports. 

 

LISA MILLAR: Tallaal Adrey has been demanding help from Australian officials since he was arrested and accused of being involved in a terrorist plot in Kuwait City. 

 

The Federal Government says it has been blocked from seeing him, but on Saturday consular officials met with the 30-year-old for the first time, spending more than an hour talking to him about his case. 

 

A friend in Sydney, Ali Hamdi, says Tallaal Adrey told his family in Kuwait he was happy with the results of the meeting, and a promise that officials will be at his next court appearance on June the 11th. 

 

ALI HAMDI: He just trusted their promise. He said, at last they come and they be confident when they talk to him that they are going to appear. 

 

LISA MILLAR: At his first court appearance last week, Tallaal Adrey claimed he'd been tortured and that his fingernails had been ripped out - claims he made again to consular officials on the weekend. 

 

ALI HAMDI: And he showed them the signs of that. Of course it is now for about more than one month since he been last time tortured, so it is not so very clear signs of torturing, but there are some internal damage in his hands, and he pointed that out to them. 

 

LISA MILLAR: The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bruce Billson, says he's taking the claims seriously. 

 

BRUCE BILLSON: Well, we've asked them to be investigated by the Kuwaiti authorities. They are quite serious concerns that we have, that those allegations relate to forced confessions and the like, so it's quite a significant matter and that's why it's been raised through a number of avenues with the Kuwaiti authorities and we're following up their response to those allegations. 

 

LISA MILLAR: What can Australian officials do about his other request to see a lawyer and have daily access to the embassy, and be released immediately on bail? 

 

BRUCE BILLSON: Well, three separate issues there. Certainly the first point about the availability of the Australian embassy officials, certainly now that contact's been made and we have a basis on which to return to see him, with follow up information about his concerns. Mr Adrey's always able to seek consular access and we will pursue that to make sure he does get the representation he's entitled to.  

 

In terms of the question of bail, that's a matter that's very much a subject that his defence team will need to pursue. Our ambassador can't intervene directly in a foreign country's legal proceedings. 

 

LISA MILLAR: The Democrats spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, is planning on pushing the issue during Senate Estimates this week. 

 

NATASHA STOTT-DESPOJA: I think a number of Australians would like to know what's happening with Australian citizens who may be charged with offences or detained in jails around the world, but specifically in relation to the Government's role.  

 

So when you have someone like Mr Adrey who has not been able to gain consular access until very recently, they're issues that we have to ask the Australian Government about - issues like whether or not he's had a medical check up, as well as investigating further those claims of torture. That's what we want to find out. What is the Government's perspective, what do they know and what information have they got from him? 

 

MARK COLVIN: Democrats Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja ending Lisa Millar's report.