An Australian is being detained on terrorism-related charges in Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Bob Carr revealed Thursday, with the man’s brother claiming he has been tortured.
Shayden Thorne, 25, has been held in a jail outside Riyadh for almost 18 months, reportedly after a laptop, which his family says he borrowed from a mosque, was allegedly found to have terrorist material on it.
“We know that he has been charged with terrorism-related offences, but that is all we’ve been informed of at this stage,” Carr’s spokeswoman told AFP.
Carr later urged a speedy resolution to the case.
“We want it resolved faster. It’s been going on for too long,” he told a media conference, adding that 50 representations had been made on Thorne’s behalf to Saudi authorities.
“I make no comment on his innocence or guilt — we can’t do that, but we can make representations on his behalf,” said the minister.
But he added: “You are subject to the law of the country you are in. Shayden has chosen to live there for 12 years and the laws of Saudi Arabia apply to him or anyone else in his position.”
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the man’s 23-year-old brother, Junaid Muhammed Thorne, was also jailed for several months after protesting against his brother’s arrest, before being released.
It reported that his passport has been confiscated by Saudi authorities and he was in hiding, which Carr confirmed.
Junaid said Shayden, who is originally from Perth, had been tortured in prison.
“When he managed to see his lawyer, he told him that, yes, he was beaten very badly, that he was lashed with cables — many, many sorts of torture was exercised on him,” Junaid told ABC from Saudi Arabia.
“They took a very, very long time to charge him,” he added.
“I mean, he stayed for a year-and-a-half, a total of 18 months without any charges. And then suddenly out of the blue came, I think, six to seven terrorist charges, which is very, very weird, with no proof at all.”
Their mother, who lives in Perth but did not want to be named, said Australia was not doing enough to get her sons home.
“Let them go, let them come back,” she told ABC.
“If they’ve got evidence against them OK, fine, but there’s nothing.
“I just think that they (Canberra) are not doing as much as what they should be doing to get my boys home.”
Carr, who offered to speak to the mother, said the jailed son had been visited by Australian officials six times and they attended his three court hearings.