The wife of an Australian businessman jailed in an Iraq after being lured to the country says he feels “betrayed” and claims the Australian government told him he would be safe in the country.
Robert Pether has been in a Baghdad jail for nearly a month after being “tricked” into travelling to Iraq by the country’s central bank, which was locked in a dispute with his employer.
Mr Pether’s wife Desiree said the 46-year old mechanical engineer and his Egyptian colleague, also detained, were being held as “pawns in a game of chess” between Iraq and their Dubai-based building company.
“He’s still really scared and feels really betrayed by what’s happened,” she told Sky News.
“He just can’t believe he’s in there, he can’t believe it’s happened. He’s completely innocent. He’s an employee, and he can’t understand how a dispute between his employer and the client has ended up in he and his colleague being detained.”
The father of three from Sydney’s north shore was assured the dispute had been resolved prior to travelling from Dubai on the invitation of the Central Bank of Iraq.
Mr Pether received his first visit from an Australian embassy representative on Tuesday and was able to speak briefly to his children.
He was due for another visit next week, she confirmed.
“He’s a lot more relieved to actually have somebody represent Australia and come and see him, so hopefully that’s a regular thing until he is released,” he said.
But she claimed the Australian government told Mr Pether it would be safe to travel to Iraq, and he would “100 per cent not have left” if he was told otherwise.
She had “no luck” contacting Foreign Minister Marise Payne despite numerous attempts.
“We haven’t heard anything back at all. Really, it needs to be something concrete and significant coming from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to stop this in his tracks,” she said.
“It’s just snowballing out of control.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has not responded to NCA NewsWire’s request for comment.
Ms Pether confirmed her husband had been treated “really well” but said he had been kept in the dark over his future.
“We still haven’t heard anything about bail. It just seems to be like a bit of an extension of time while they try to fabricate some more things to their benefit,” she said.