newspaper revealedThe TimesThe British newspaper, Thursday, revealed details regarding the “mysterious” death of a British director who had previously worked for Qatar Airways and was detained by Qatari security for several days.
Mark Bennett, 52, was found hanged in a Doha hotel during the Christmas holidays of 2019, ten weeks after he was arrested in a Qatar Airways office and taken blindfolded and handcuffed to a state security detention center.
The newspaper says that Bennett later spoke about the methods of torture he was subjected to during the three-week detention period, including stripping him of clothes, spraying him with water using high pressure hoses, hitting his head against walls, and exposing him to sleep deprivation techniques.
UN lawyers say there are “credible allegations” of extrajudicial detention and ill-treatment in the facility where he was held.
The newspaper notes that Bennett was prevented from leaving Qatar after his release and did not know if he was facing any charges and feared re-arrest, according to his family.
The newspaper adds that the Qatari authorities announced that Bennett’s death was the result of suicide, but the British coroner confirmed that “there is no specific evidence of a suicide intent” and that “the circumstances of the months preceding his death are still unclear.”
Bennett did not leave a suicide note and did not send any emails or text messages over the phone to his friends or family about it. The newspaper says that the night before his death he made a video call with his wife and children and was laughing and joking during it.
The newspaper says that the British Foreign Office closed the case last September despite the concerns of the family and the coroner, just one week after Liz Truss became foreign minister.
She adds that the following month, Terrace visited Qatar to start a “strategic dialogue” and begin “deeper cooperation in the areas of security, development, trade and investment.”
Last May, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met Boris Johnson to announce a £10 billion investment package in Britain.
Bennett left Thomas Cook Tourism to become Vice President of Discover Qatar, a subsidiary of the state-owned Qatar Airways Group, in 2017.
His work has been focused on modernizing the country’s tourism sector, with former colleagues stating that he worked closely with Akbar al-Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways and director of London Heathrow Airport, in which Qatar owns 20 percent, according to the newspaper.
The newspaper notes that Bennett’s arrest took place in October 2019 after he resigned from his position in the Qatari company, against the background of obtaining a job offer in a Saudi travel company, adding that one of his former colleagues stated that Bennett’s resignation was considered a “great insult” for the Qataris.
The newspaper reported that Qatar Airways said it discovered that Bennett, as soon as he submitted his resignation, was sending “top secret documents” to a private email address and that she informed the police of this.
The Qatari authorities did not respond to questions from the newspaper “The Times” in this regard, while the British Foreign Office only said that it had provided “assistance to the family of a British man after his death in Doha.”
The newspaper revealed that the Qatari authorities refused the entry of a United Nations mission investigating human rights violations in Qatar to the center where Bennett was detained in 2019.
She added that lawyers from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention were in Qatar to inspect prisons and detention centers from November 3 to 14.
According to the newspaper, Bennett was released suddenly on November 2 and checked into a Doha hotel without any documents related to his arrest or any legal procedures against him.
The group said that it was prevented from visiting a state security detention center, after receiving complaints about detentions without judicial oversight and mistreatment of detainees.
Also, when the team visited some other places of detention, it found these facilities almost empty and received reliable reports of detainees being transferred to other facilities before the UN team arrived.
The newspaper quoted a British businessman who previously worked in Qatar as saying that “whether you are a Pakistani worker or a wealthy Briton, you will be treated like garbage if the boss turns against you.”
“It’s like you’re a slave… you can’t even leave the country for the weekend without your employer’s permission,” he added.
Since obtaining the honor of organizing the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has been subjected to a lot of criticism, especially with regard to the rights of foreign workers.
Doha asserts that it has made significant improvements in recent years, including imposing a minimum wage and relaxing many aspects of the sponsorship system that gave employers powers over workers’ rights to change jobs and even leave the country.