News, Culture & Society

Rob Pether detained in Iraq for 61 days as son and wife beg for his freedom

An Australian teenager has revealed his torment as his engineer father endures 61 days of imprisonment in Iraq after he was detained and placed in solitary confinement with no explanation.  

Robert Pether, from Sydney’s North Shore, was arrested on April 7 when he arrived at a scheduled meeting with his client, the Central Bank of Iraq, in Baghdad.

The father-of-three has spent the better part of 10 years working throughout the Middle East as he helps rebuild Iraq after it was decimated by war.

Robert Pether, from Sydney’s north shore, was arrested on April 7 for questioning after arriving at a scheduled meeting with his client. Pictured with his two sons

He was arrested after being lured to Iraq under the guise of attending a critical meeting to discuss strained relations between his employer and the state government. 

Mr Pether’s family claim they’ve endured ‘different levels of hell every day’ as their efforts to have him released continue to go unanswered.

‘I just want my dad home,’ Mr Pether’s 18-year-old son Flynn told Daily Mail Australia.

‘He did nothing but work hard and help [Iraq].’ 

Mr Pether's oldest son, Flynn (right) is pleading with the Iraqi government to 'do the right thing' and let his dad go after 61 days with barely any contact

Mr Pether’s oldest son, Flynn (right) is pleading with the Iraqi government to ‘do the right thing’ and let his dad go after 61 days with barely any contact

Flynn is in his final year of school and trying to juggle the workload with the stress of wondering whether his dad is alive and safe each day.

Up until this ordeal, he’d planned to study engineering at university so he could work in the Middle East like his father.

‘He was making a real difference,’ Flynn said. 

Given the pressures of the last two months, Flynn is leaning toward deferring his degree for next year to take some time to reassess his ambitions and plans.

The only contact Flynn has been able to have with his dad was one quick phone call and a letter for his 18th birthday, which was passed on through the embassy in Baghdad.

But he had to fight hard just to get that. 

Mr Pether's wife Desree understands that her husband's detention is a blatant attempt to extract money from his employer. Pictured together on their wedding day

Mr Pether’s wife Desree understands that her husband’s detention is a blatant attempt to extract money from his employer. Pictured together on their wedding day

Ms Pether said before his arrest he had been communicating with Iraqi locals about the need for more banks and discussing future projects, including a hospital. Pictured: Mr Pether with his daughter on an international trip in 2013

Ms Pether said before his arrest he had been communicating with Iraqi locals about the need for more banks and discussing future projects, including a hospital. Pictured: Mr Pether with his daughter on an international trip in 2013

For the first 19 days of his detention, Mr Pether spent his days in solitary confinement and had just two hours’ freedom to speak with a lawyer. 

In total, the family have spoken with him just five times in the 61 days since he was arrested.

‘It’s an absolute nightmare,’ Mr Pether’s wife Desree said. ‘He feels massively betrayed.’

Ms Pether understands that her husband’s detention is a blatant attempt to extract money from his employer.

She claims Mr Pether’s lawyer has been told ‘all of this can go away’ if their demands are met regarding getting out of paying for a four year contract.

‘They’re blatant about it. It’s not even hidden. They were literally tricked into the country and then trapped and are blatantly being held as pawns,’ Ms Pether said, adding her husband remains ‘terrified’ about what could happen next.

Ms Pether couldn't bring herself to tell their eight-year-old daughter (pictured together) right away that her father was in prison

Ms Pether couldn’t bring herself to tell their eight-year-old daughter (pictured together) right away that her father was in prison

‘The Iraq government and the client are scrambling trying desperately and using every trick they can muster to justify imprisoning Robert and his colleague.’ 

Ms Pether separately assured her husband is ‘so straight up the line’ that he ‘wouldn’t even take a bottle of wine off someone he works with’.

Mr Pether has not been charged with an offence.

‘Being completely innocent and having no charges laid doesn’t seem to make an iota of difference in Iraq,’ his wife said.  

Prior to Mr Pether’s arrest, he was a vocal advocate for Iraq and was proud to be contributing to the nation’s rebuild.

The Department of Foreign Affairs told Daily Mail Australia they are providing consular assistance to an Australian detained in Iraq. 

Ms Pether claimed her husband is 'so straight up the line' that he 'wouldn't even take a bottle of wine off someone he works with' and has no idea why he has been detained

Ms Pether claimed her husband is ‘so straight up the line’ that he ‘wouldn’t even take a bottle of wine off someone he works with’ and has no idea why he has been detained

Several of his past public social media posts show his support for the nation and its people

Several of his past public social media posts show his support for the nation and its people

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk