20 Dec 2018

Australian man jailed in UAE for five years after being found guilty of spying

6:52 am on 20 December 2018

An Australian man has been sentenced to five years in the notorious United Arab Emirates prison system after being found guilty of spying.

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Photo: 123rf

Naim Aziz Abbas was arrested in Dubai in October 2017, accused of passing on secrets to Qatar, and has been held in the Al Wathba prison facility outside Abu Dhabi.

Relatives of the former Sydney train driver say a UAE court has now handed the 65-year-old a five-year jail term and fined him the equivalent of almost $2,000.

"This is a complete injustice" Mr Abbas' brother Adil told the ABC shortly after receiving news of the sentence from his sibling's defence lawyer in the UAE.

"[We] need our Government to intervene … he is innocent."

Last month the Iraqi-born Australian citizen made an emotional plea direct to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help free him from jail.

"Please, please because I have been accused of something I have not done, there is no proof at all, there is no witnesses at all," Mr Abbas said in a recording obtained by the ABC.

"I wish the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs to do everything possible to save me from this situation."

Mr Abbas's case is considered particularly sensitive given political and military tensions between the UAE and Qatar have intensified over the past year, with the UAE continuing to accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is yet to respond to Mr Abbas's sentencing, but in November a spokesman told the ABC consular officials were providing assistance to Naim Aziz Abbas, including liaising with his family in Australia.