UN urged to intervene following allegations that an Irish citizen has been tortured in an Iraqi jail

Laura Wickham’s husband, Yasser Eljuboori, was detained as he was getting a flight back to Ireland after visiting his sick mother

An urgent appeal has been filed with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture concerning the fate of an Irish citizen currently being held in an Iraqi jail.

Yasser Eljuboori (37) was detained by Iraqi police at Baghdad airport in the early hours of Monday as he was getting a flight back to Ireland after visiting his mother, who is sick. Mr Eljuboori, who has almost 75,000 followers on X, has been a persistent critic of corruption within the Iraqi government.

The appeal was filed by the well-known human rights barrister Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC and lawyer Tatyana Eatwell to the special rapporteur Dr Alice Jill Edwards.

It calls on the United Nations to take action to protect and safeguard Mr Eljuboori. It further states that Iraqi detention centres are well known for the use of “torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and that Mr Eljuboori is at “real risk of further ill treatment in detention given the events of the past three days and Iraq’s history of ill treatment of prisoners”.


Mr Eljuboori’s wife Laura Wickham said her husband was being held on a trumped-up charge of travelling on a false Irish passport. “That was ridiculous. He entered Iraq in September and there was no issue with his passport.”

Mr Eljuboori came to Ireland in 2007 following the chaos caused by the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 2003. The couple met in 2011 and were married in 2015. Mr Eljuboori became an Irish citizen in March 2022. He works for LinkedIn and he and his wife live in Balgriffin, Dublin with their three children, who are aged between two and five.

Ms Wickham said her husband’s brother told her that Mr Eljuborri had been mistreated in jail and was likely to be charged on Thursday with defaming Iraqi prime minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani.

She has been contacted by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, who she said pledged the support of the Government through Ireland’s consulate in Jordan. Ireland has no diplomatic presence in Iraq.

Mr Martin was asked about the matter on Wednesday and said Ireland would use “all tools at our disposal diplomatically” to try to secure Mr Eljuboori’s release. He said he had spoken to the Irish ambassador in Jordan and a “clear response from the Iraqi authorities” regarding its decision in the case was sought.

“We’ve also made the point that he has a wife and children at home, and he’s an Irish citizen – he’s a dual Irish-Iraqi citizen – and we will do everything we possibly can to assist in this case and get this case resolved,” he said.

Asked at a press conference in Dublin if there were concerns for Mr Eljuboori’s safety, Mr Martin added: “We’re always concerned in situations like this but we will work with the Iraqi authorities. I hope I can make contact again today and get clarity on all of this and then get resolution to this as effectively and quickly as we can.”

Ms Wickham said she was very worried for her husband as the Iraqi police “took everything from him” including his passport. She said things got “scary” on Tuesday afternoon when she was informed that Mr Eljuboori was missing. He eventually showed up at a police station in Baghdad.

He is likely to be charged under article 226 of the Publication Law, a sanction which prohibits publicly insulting any public institution or official in Iraq, though it appears to be a civil rather than a criminal matter.

In the appeal to the United Nations, Ms Gallagher and Ms Eatwell said Article 226 has been “heavily criticised” by international free speech and human rights groups, as it has been used to target journalists, human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists.

Ms Wickham added: “We are being told that the office of the prime minister of Iraq is taking a defamation case against him, but there is no legal basis for that.

“His legal representation there is confident there is no substance to that. His solicitors in Iraq and his brother in Iraq say that he was mistreated while he was missing. He was blindfolded and he was beaten.”

Ms Wickham described her husband as a “traditional gentleman” with a big personality. “He’s also great fun. He is very loving. He adores me and his kids. I’m his biggest fan and he is mine. He treasures us and he doesn’t take anything for granted.”

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times