And although he has now been acquitted and released, ongoing legal proceedings, which his lawyers say are being initiated simply to keep him in the country, mean that he is prohibited from leaving.
Sarlak said he was disappointed that nothing had been done to help him after Australia secured the release of Moore-Gilbert, who was in jail in Iran for more than two years.
Sarlak, who has two grandchildren he never knew, said the academic’s imprisonment, which he heard about while in jail, upset him.
“Every time I saw his photo, my tears ran down (my face), he told 9news.com.au.
“I knew what it was like and being a lady, much, much more difficult.
“I am disappointed (of Australia).
“I know there are people here from Nepal, Bangladesh, who are helping their people a lot more.
Sarlak moved to the Middle Eastern country to build aircraft hangars for the royal family airline.
It had built similar structures in Australia, including at Melbourne Airport, and said it won an international tender.
When he finished that job, he decided to stay because he liked the “peaceful” life.
But Sarlak, who previously lived in Albury, was jailed in 2016 on charges of bad checks, a crime in the country, related to his business.
His lawyers say they never tried him and forced him to sign a confession in Arabic.
He blamed his former Qatari business partner for the bad checks and claimed that company money was embezzled.
After more than two years in jail, Sarlak was finally acquitted and released.
But more pending cases, which Sarlak’s lawyers say relate to the registration of a business in his name by someone else while he was in prison, means he cannot leave the country.
You cannot access the medical care you need for your heart condition and you risk arrest because you do not have identification.
Last year, Amnesty International Australia asked ministers to intervene in the case of Mr Sarlak.
Sarlak is at least out of Doha’s horrible central prison, where his lawyers feared he might die.
He shared a cell with up to 18 people.
“(There were) 18 people in a room, two-story beds, broken mattresses, no clean sheets or blankets and smoking, it was horrible, since I have problems with my heart, I suffered a lot,” he said.
“The hygiene was horrible. For the sake of my children, my family, I have had to be strong.”
Sarlak warned Australians against the lure of working in the Middle East, calling it “a completely dangerous place.”
“The only thing worse than Qatar’s assault on an innocent grandfather is Australia’s insane unwillingness to oppose it.
“Getting this woman from Iran would have been a much more difficult task.
“Both Qatar and Australia could easily figure this out, but if they don’t I wouldn’t expect him to leave the country anytime soon.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told 9news.com.au: “The Australian government has been providing consular assistance to an Australian man in Qatar since his arrest in 2016. Due to our privacy obligations, we will not provide further comment.” .