By Courtney Trenwith
Australian national Sheydan Thorne held on terror charges in Gulf kingdom for more than a year
The Australian Foreign Minister has called on Saudi Arabia to speed up the case of a man who has been held on terrorism charges for more than a year without trial.
Sheydan Thorne, 25, is an Australian citizen but had been living in the Islamic kingdom for at least a decade when he was arrested in November 2011.
His 23-year-old brother Junaid, who also lives in Saudi Arabia, claims Sheydan has been tortured and was in custody for more than a year before “suddenly” being charged with multiple terrorism offences.
“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 Australian public broadcaster ABC Radio from Saudi Arabia.
“They took a very, very long time to charge him. 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.”
His mother, who lives in Australia and did not want to be named, told ABC Radio Sheydan had been deprived of sunlight and exercise.
It has been reported that he was arrested during a raid on the hideout of an alleged extremist group planning to wage war in Afghanistan.
His mother said terrorism-related material had been found on a laptop he borrowed from a mosque. He was unaware of the material, she said.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Thursday said 50 representations had been made to Saudi authorities on Sheydan’s behalf.
“We want it resolved faster. It's been going on for too long,” he told media.
“I make no comment on his innocence or guilt - we can't do that, but we can make representations on his behalf.”
Junaid also was arrested for a short period after filming protesters rallying in support of his brother on his mobile phone outside a mosque in Riyadh.
He said he had been in hiding from authorities for more than two months after they confiscated his passport.
The brothers moved to Saudi Arabia with their father and had been studying finance at university.