First Published: 2010-02-01

 
Norway diplomat involved in abducting Skah children
 

Oslo admits on of their diplomat helped smuggle former Olympic champion’s two children out of Morocco.

 

Middle East Online

Skah in anguish



OSLO - Norway's government admitted Monday that one of its diplomats had delivered the two children of former Olympic champion Khalid Skah to a go-between who helped smuggle them out of his native Morocco.

Skah, who won the 10,000 metres at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, had accused the Norwegian embassy in Rabat of abducting the pair and helping their mother organise their clandestine exit from Morocco in July last year.

Oslo admits it temporarily housed Selma, born in 1993, and Tarik, born in 1996, at the ambassador's residence, believing their safety was at risk, but has denied any role in smuggling them out of Morocco.

"A diplomat drove the children a short distance to hand them to a trusted person designated by their mother, who had been awarded custody of them by the Norwegian courts," said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, confirming press reports.

The spokeswoman, Ragnhild Imerslund, insisted this did not amount to complicity in kidnapping or extracting them from the country.

"The children's lives had been threatened. We could not simply release them into the unknown," Imerslund said.

"We did not play any role in the children's escape. That was a private act arranged by their mother despite our advice. We wanted on our side to reach a political and diplomatic solution."

The case has chilled relations between Norway and Morocco, where judicial authorities have launched an official inquiry into the "illegal exit," aimed notably at a Norwegian embassy immigration official.

Skah's former wife, Anne Cecilie Hopstock, a Norwegian, left her husband in 2007 and had been demanding custody of the children, who have dual nationality and are now in Norway.

She has filed charges against him for kidnapping, violence and threats.

According to Skah, Tarik and Selma had lived in Rabat since 2006 and their mother left the next year to return to Norway. He has offered 500,000 dollars to whoever brings his children back to Morocco.

The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang said two special forces officers, led by a former policeman -- the trusted person designated by Hopstock -- helped the children leave Morocco "in their spare time."

The foreign ministry said it knew nothing of the report while the defence ministry said it was not immediately able to comment.

 

Obama's warfare doctrine to be tested in Syria

Top Saudi envoys hold talks with Qatar emir

UN moves to impose sanctions on Libya militias

Egypt quizzes Morsi for 'giving security papers to Qatar'

Lebanon seeks to tackle child marriage with new legislation

Fire rises up again from under ashes on Lebanon border

Vital aid arrives in war-battered Gaza

Hollande: Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorists

Mother of US hostage to leader of Islamic State: Please spare my son

Turkey ruling party officially approves Davutoglu as new PM

US spy agencies face difficult task in Syria

Saudi Arabia jails 18 militants on terror charges

Gazans breathe sigh of relief

Litany of horrors becomes regular fixture in jihadist-held Syria

Iraq forces mass for onslaught on jihadist siege of Amerli

Doha offers help to rebuild Gaza

Iran alters Arak heavy water reactor over Western worries

New Turkey PM leaves successor troubled legacy

US rules out coordination with Syria on targeting jihadists

Algeria president sacks Belkhadem

Calm reigns over Gaza amid celebrations

Palestinians ‘reach’ long-term Gaza truce with Israel

Barzani: Iran provided us with weapons

US to track jihadists in Syria with spy planes

Top Iran official in Saudi to repair strained ties

Drums of war are beating anew on Capitol Hill

Israel air raid in Gaza kills two Palestinians

Deadly bus tragedy in Egypt

Car bomb rips through Baghdad intersection

Shebab flee Somalia strategic town in latest advance of African troops

South Sudan warring leaders sign fresh ceasefire deal

Who’s funding extremists? Qatar struggles to clean up tarnished image

Abadi calls on militias to come under Iraq state control

Nile dam row at heart of talks in Sudan

Ansar Sharia calls for jihadist unity in Libya

No let-up in Gaza war as Egypt raises new truce proposal

Thousands march in support of Yemen President’s call for national unity

Syria reaches out to former foes in fight against ‘terrorism’

Libya parliament names new army chief

Egypt warns only disarmament could spare Libya from intervention

Egypt offers new Gaza ceasefire

Iran to Israel: we will arm Palestinians

American held hostage for 22 months in Syria freed

Iraq calls for global support in fighting jihadists

Iran bolsters arsenal with new drones and missiles