A British father who was detained in Iraq over an alleged unpaid debt has told of the appalling conditions he endured in prison where he saw rats as big as cats.
Brian Glendinning, 43, said he ‘pressed the pause button’ on his life for two months in prison, where spending the days was all about ‘survival’.
He had been hired to work at an oil refinery in Iraq, but was arrested on an Interpol red notice at Baghdad airport on September 12 for an alleged debt to the National Bank of Qatar.
The father-of-three was eventually released after campaigning under the Interpol and Extradition Reform (Ipex) initiative and returned to Scotland on November 19.
Scottish construction engineer Brian Glendinning, 43, returns to Edinburgh Airport after his release after two months in Iraq
Glendinning with his wife and daughters after arriving at Edinburgh Airport following his release from two months in Iraqi prison
Glendinning is greeted by his mother Meta after arriving in Edinburgh
He described his experiences to Ipex founder Radha Stirling, who hosts the Gulf in Justice podcast.
Mr Glendinning said the rats infested the toilet in the cell he shared, making it difficult to sleep.
He said, “I looked and saw this rat go by, this thing was the size of a cat. They came out of the toilet, it was just a hole in the ground.
“If you saw Trainspotting and the bathroom scene in there, it was 10 times worse, it was just rats everywhere.”
“For four nights I watched these rats all night and never slept.”
Although he eventually managed to sleep after realizing the rats weren’t leaving the toilet, he said he had to endure constant noise and no hot water during his time in prison.
He said: “The mental torture every day was the noise, the mob and the voices, a fan, there was a generator right outside the window, the fumes from the generator, headache.”
The father-of-three, who worked at an oil refinery in Iraq, was arrested on an Interpol red notice at Baghdad airport on September 12 for an alleged debt owed to the National Bank of Qatar.
Glendenning is greeted by his wife Kimberly and daughter Lexi at Edinburgh Airport
Mr Glendinning said he saw police beat other prisoners and that, although he was not beaten himself, the guards were “heavy handed” with him, pushing him as he walked.
He said he initially feared being extradited to Qatar and having to spend two years in prison.
Asked about the worst moments of his ordeal, he told Ms Stirling: ‘The worst was the first phone call home to tell them, ‘By the way, I’m locked in here and I don’t think I’m out. ‘.
“And then when I managed to get the official documents and read the words ‘you were sentenced to two years in prison in Qatar in 2017 in your absence, Qatar wanted you extradited’, and my world s collapsed.
‘I had already fixed in my head the phone call to Kimberley (his wife) saying, ‘listen, go on with your life, I won’t be here, don’t even bother to come here to see me’. I didn’t want the kids to come here, I just wrote off at that time.
“When I walked in I pressed the pause button for my life, and when I came out I pressed play again, but I thought the pause button was going to stay on a lot longer than it did. it was.
“It wasn’t life in there, to me it was survival, an existence, and that’s something I don’t want to remember anymore, that’s why I hit pause.”
Mr Glendinning, from Kincardine, Fife, said he was incredibly grateful to his friends and family and everyone who worked to bring him home.
He said: “The best moment was the day I heard I was going out, I didn’t even know it was going to happen. And after that is when the plane landed at Edinburgh airport and I knew I was home.
Ms Stirling said: ‘I am privileged to have been able to help this dear family that I have come to know.
“I am grateful for their energy and dedication to supporting the campaign to free Brian.”