HALF AN hour before his release from a Baghdad jail, Brian Glendinning did not dare believe he would soon be free and on his way home.

The Kincardine dad and grandad, 43, was wary of getting his hopes up. He remained fearful of extradition to Qatar to spend two years behind bars due to missed payments on a £20,000 loan.

That trepidation, forged from nine weeks in an overcrowded "rat-infested" Iraqi prison, was consuming. But it made the celebratory beer he had in a hotel on Sunday, just hours after his liberation, taste particularly good.

His brother and best pal, John Glendinning, said on Monday: "Brian had a towel over his head to try and sleep, as there's always a light on, and someone had shaken him to wake him.

"He said that goes on a lot so he was ready to react angrily when he was told: 'They're shouting for you', and he just heard: 'Release, release, Brian you're going to get out, you're going home'.

"He'd made a few friends in there, people who were in the same boat, so they were hugging and jumping up and down.

"Even the guards were dancing, he said.

"He couldn't believe it. Literally 30 minutes before the cell door opened, he was still thinking: 'This isn't going to happen' and that he'd still be going to Qatar."

John added: "We're now waiting on an exit visa so he can fly home.

"It's something Brian's work have to sort out, which might take a day or so, but we're expecting him back this week."

John found out his brother was to be released at 10.35am on Sunday and called their lawyer in Iraq, Tahseen Alchaabawi, to make doubly sure.

He said: "I was overwhelmed, emotions were running high.

"All the information to the family has come through me so for the last nine weeks I've been delivering bad news, it was amazing to tell them he was free.

"Kimberly [Brian's wife] was my first call, she screamed with joy. Next was my mum and dad. My mum couldn't speak, it meant so much to her, and then my older brother, Lee.

"We couldn't have got through it without family. That's been everything."

Brian was detained at Basra International Airport on September 4 as he made his way to start a new job as a construction engineer on an oil refinery.

Authorities from Qatar said he had defaulted on a £20,000 loan that he took out while working there in 2016, and a red notice had been issued by Interpol.

On arrival in Iraq, he was held and had to share a prison with terrorists and murderers.

In his absence, Brian had been sentenced to two years in prison and he was awaiting extradition from Iraq while his family launched a desperate campaign to try to secure his release, including a demonstration at the Scottish Parliament.

John said: "I've been waiting so long for Brian's name to appear on my phone. He was delighted, he was thanking me, he said: 'I know you've been running the campaign'.

"I said it wasn't just me and 'I only did what you would have done for me'.

"He even had a celebratory beer in the hotel – I bet it tasted good."

Last week, a third-party donor settled the debt and the Qatar National Bank issued a clearance note confirming they were no longer seeking Brian's extradition.

However, they had yet to tell the Iraqi authorities, leading to a direct plea to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to intervene and secure his release.

Brian had said: "This has been the most traumatic experience of my entire life. My health is failing and I’m losing my mind. I can’t go on like this.

"I’m struggling to survive and I’m worried for my life every moment I'm here.

"The conditions here are hard. I’m not in a minimum security prison with white-collar criminals.

"This is Iraq and the only reason I took a job here was to provide for my family and repay Qatar Bank.

“It’s not just hard for me. It’s my whole family, we are in tears every day. Please, please help us."

Thankfully, his wish has now been granted and he'll soon be on his way home.

John added: "Obviously, the release is great but we'll need to see what his mental health is like. We won't know that until he's back home.

"Douglas Chapman (Dunfermline and West Fife MP) played a big part in this, applying pressure diplomatically and speaking with the Qatari ambassador.

"We won't forget all those people who helped us."