Ahmed Talib is an Australian national, small business owner and father to 8 children. Ahmed was arrested in Australia following years of harassment by the security services, following their attempts to recruit him which he repeatedly refused.
In July 2020, Ahmed’s father Dr Lukman and his brother Ismail were both kidnapped, tortured and detained in Qatar, where they were held without charge for 5 months. Potentially relying on false testimony provided there, in October 2020 the US Trump Administration placed a financial designation on Ahmed.
Ahmed was arrested and charged in March 2021 with “preparations for foreign incursions into foreign states for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities”, based on the testimony of another prisoner in Australia.
He is currently detained in a maximum security prison in Australia.
Ahmed, 32, is an Australian national who runs a small family gemstone business in Melbourne. He is in regular communication with his family in Sri Lanka where he sources the gemstones. Ahmed is one of 3 siblings, has a wife and 8 children and was residing in Melbourne before his arrest.
Ahmed has been dedicated to humanitarian work and supporting others over a number of years.
His father describes him as “an extremely kind person. He is very sensitive to the feelings of anyone and everyone he meets. He is so passionate and very people-centred. He has been prudent from a young age. He was the easiest of his siblings to bring up during his childhood, and as he grew older he has been enriched with a high level of emotional intelligence.”
Ahmed has been involved in activism over a number of years. In 2010, Ahmed travelled with his wife, sister and numerous lawyers and human rights activists in the aid flotilla to Gaza, to end the blockade imposed by Israel. Despite the flotilla being a peaceful, international humanitarian effort led by prominent human right leaders, celebrities and politicians from around the world , the boat was stormed by armed police and many on the ship were injured.
During this time, Ahmed was shot at by Israeli police and ended up in hospital for the injuries he sustained. The Australian government supported him at the time to return home safely.
Qatari detention & US designation of his father and brother:
In July 2020, Ahmed’s father and brother were kidnapped, detained and tortured in Qatar, where they were held without charge for almost 5 months. More can be read about their story here.
During their detention, both his father and brother were asked about Ahmed and the rest of their family. They were never charged with any crime and were eventually released as innocent men in December 2020, however there is a possibility that unreliable information obtained falsely through torture could have been shared with other agencies.
Three months later, in October 2020, the US Treasury under President Trump, issued a financial designation of Ahmed and his family’s gemstone business, based on false associations with Al Qaeda. Despite not having any links to the US nor any assets or accounts there, the US declared his “assets” frozen. These designations are issued without due process, and there is no available recourse for people to clear their name or even have the evidence this is based on, examined.
Ahmed’s father, Dr Thalib said of the designation, “the thought of any false confessions I may have given against even my own son is something that haunts me every passing day. It haunts me because it is a possibility I am not able to rule out.”
Australian harassment & raids:
Over the last 7 years, Ahmed has been continuously harassed by Australian security services, due to his background in activism and his connection to the Muslim community. The Australian secret services repeatedly asked Ahmed to work for them, and were met with his refusal each time. .
Following the US designation, Ahmed’s home was raided by over 40 officers from the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and some Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agents were also present. During the raid, he was interrogated without his lawyer present and was offered the opportunity to work with them yet again. He was told that should he refuse, the security services would act upon the US designation against his finances and livelihood. The officers went as far as digging up his garden, all electronics were seized and images were taken of the items his children had been playing with.
This raid resulted in nothing, no arrests were made nor was Ahmed charged with any crime.
His father said: “Ahmed was being threatened by the Australian security services to work as an informant for them, and that they could make the US designation go away, but if he didn’t, they could make things difficult for him.”
Around the same time as the raid, some members in the community were approached by the intelligence services, they were told that Ahmed’s father had been arrested abroad and were asked questions about Ahmed’s family.
Arrest and prison conditions:
In the weeks prior to Ahmed’s arrest on 25 March 2021, he was working hard to find a lawyer for his father, Dr Lukman Thalib, in order to initiate legal proceedings in relation to Australian complicity of torture during his father’s detention in Qatar.
Ahmed was arrested and charged on one count of “preparations for foreign incursions into foreign states for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities” between October 2012 and September 2013.
Ahmed has remained in prison in Australia since then, where maintaining access to his family has been very difficult. He has recently been moved into a maximum security prison and has had to endure the following restrictions:
- Given maximum security order referral management
- Prison “buy ups” restricted to toiletries only
- The complete stripping of his cell of everything, including photos of his children
- No visits approved yet and has not had access to a chaplain, despite numerous applications by the chaplain to visit him
- Video calls with wife and children were approved however ceased abruptly after two weeks with no explanation provided
- Psychological distress caused by solitary confinement and ill-treatment by guards
- Shackled at waist and legs every time he is taken to make phone call or leave the cell
- Made to lay down on his stomach prior to corrections officers entering his cell and be shackled to his waist
The majority of the evidence against Ahmed is based on the testimony of one man, who has been promised immunity for his testimony against Ahmed and his co defendant.
Ahmed’s legal team is putting in another bail application on 14 February 2022 as he has been detained since March 2021 and his family of 8 children need his support and presence at home. The legal process in Australia can take up to 4 years before a case is heard, so the future for Ahmed and his family remains unclear.
His case highlights the critical importance of the presumption of innocence being applied equally to all.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)