Aussie reveals horrific moment she was invasively searched on airport tarmac

Brianne Tolj
·2-min read

An Australian nurse says she felt “like a criminal” when she was removed from a plane in Qatar last month and forced to pull down her underwear after airport officials discovered a newborn baby abandoned in a bathroom.

The Victorian woman, who used the pseudonym Jane, spoke to 60 Minutes on Sunday about her traumatic experience at Doha Hamad International Airport.

Qatar officials were slammed seven weeks ago when it was revealed they pulled Jane and 12 others from flight QR908 to Australia and performed an invasive physical search.

Moments earlier they had discovered the hours-old baby in an airport bathroom bin.

The Victorian woman, who used the pseudonym Jane.
The Victorian woman, who used the pseudonym Jane, spoke on Sunday about her traumatic experience at Doha Hamad International Airport. Source: 60 minutes

“We felt like criminals really… we were frightened,” Jane said.

“I had to pull [my underwear] down and it was just incredibly invasive. I was terrified and I was humiliated.”

Jane said she had been living with her husband in London for the past three years when they decided to move home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

But their excitement to see their families quickly took a turn when Jane said a man made an announcement asking all female passengers to disembark with their passports.

Armed men began searching the plane’s bathrooms for the missing mum, she said.

"I was immediately panicked. I was just thinking, ‘Why do we have to get off the plane?’”

Female passengers herded off into waiting ambulances

She said the female passengers were herded by the guards into two waiting ambulances on the tarmac.

"At that point scenarios were going through my mind being like, 'Are we getting kidnapped? Are we being taken somewhere?'" Jane said.

Jane told the publication a woman who was waiting inside the ambulance told her a baby had been found and to lie down and remove her pants and underwear, which she was grasping onto out of fear.

Airport officials holding the abandoned baby.
Airport officials found an abandoned baby in a bathroom bin before the search. Source: 60 minutes

"I remember laying there thinking, 'This isn't right. This is not how this should be happening. This isn't how this should be done.'"

After being given permission to leave, Jane said she re-boarded the plane and reunited with her worried and frantic husband.

The incident was labelled as “appalling” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison when news broke.

The baby is reportedly being cared for, but the mum still has not been found.

Jane said she has received a lot of support from Australian police and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade but had yet to receive and apology from the Doha government or airport officials.

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