Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Woman describes Qatar airport strip-search horror

Victim of Doha Airport search says she felt 'like a criminal'

A sign of Qatar Airways is seen at Hamad International Airport in Doha. All international flights serving Qatar are banned from using Saudi and UAE airspace. Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters
A sign of Qatar Airways is seen at Hamad International Airport in Doha. All international flights serving Qatar are banned from using Saudi and UAE airspace. Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters

A nurse who was among women strip-searched at Hamad International Airport in Doha after travelling from the UK has spoken of her ordeal.

The Australian national said she was ordered to leave a plane by armed guards while her husband was told to stay in his seat.

Last month, 13 women were ordered off flights by guards in Qatar for intimate strip searches after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a bin at the airport.

"We felt like criminals," she told TV station Channel 9's 60 Minutes programme.

"'If they think I'm guilty, what is going to happen to me', I thought. They came on the plane with guns and I didn't know if I was going to be kidnapped."

The woman said she was forced into an ambulance, which was surrounded by 12 armed men.

"A woman told me I needed to be tested and made me lie on a table and put a sheet over me," she said.

She was then asked to remove her clothes.

The victim said she had originally felt she was "lucky" after she and her husband obtained seats on a Qatar Airways flight to Australia to escape the growing number of Covid-19 cases in London.

But she said that what happened was a sexual assault.

"It was incredibly unfair," she said.

The UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, has spoken to Qatar’s deputy foreign minister to voice his concern over the incident.

Two British women were among those searched.

Qatar has said those responsible have been referred to the public prosecutor’s office.

Updated: November 22, 2020 11:12 PM

EDITOR'S PICKS
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email