Head of the Saudi detainees in Iraq, Thamer Balheed told Al Arabiya TV that the fact that the match was supervised by a Saudi referee added to the Iraqi prison guards anger after their national team’s 1 – 2 defeat to the UAE.
An Iraqi television showed a sports commentator issuing live prayers against Saudi referee Khalil al-Ghamdi during the match and accusing him of being unfair to Iraq. According to Balheed , up to 60 Saudi detainees are being held in different Iraqi prisons and are all staying in very pathetic conditions and exposed to various forms of torture.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have recently resumed security cooperation talks, including discussion on a prisoners exchange deal. According to Balheed, when the issue of exchanging prisoners was introduced, the Iraqi government refused it. We were met with extreme intransigence on the part of al-Maliki’s government,” Balheed said.