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.

 

Libyan court sentences Kadhafi son to death in absentia

Two Bahrain police killed in 'terror' attack

Syrian army, Kurds push IS out of Hasakeh

Air raids and clashes shatter Yemen truce

Iran urged to free Washington Post journalist

UN aid chief calls for greater Syria access

Rebels gain ground near Syrian regime heartland

Cairo furniture factory fire kills 25

Javad Zarif has 'no concern' about nuclear deal

Somalia unable to hold full elections in 2016

Kuwait sentences 4 Egyptians to death for murder

Turkish sergeant shot dead by Kurdish militant

Netanyahu: Iran a 'formidable' danger to Europe

Iran's conservative media slams French FM over export of tainted blood

NATO stands with Turkey in face of 'terrorism'

Mogherini due in Iran for nuclear deal talks

Erdogan: No peace process with Kurds amid attacks

Saudi FM denounces 'aggressive' Iran statements

Two suspected jihadists in Cairo raid

Saudi king supports Turkish military action

Morocco media boss to pay defamation damages for transport minister

Abbas vs. Dahlan: Rumblings in Ramallah raise questions on Palestinian politics

Iraq Shiite chief sees no change in Turkey stance on IS

Coalition jets accidentally hit pro-government Yemen forces

ISIS on agenda as Cameron leads trade mission to Southeast Asia

PKK 'never respected' peace process

Arab ministers to meet after Jerusalem clashes

US joins forces with Turkey: Agreement to forge 'ISIS-free zone' in Syria

Ahead of emergency meeting, Turkey ‘has not asked’ for NATO help

Obama vows to keep up pressure on Somalia's Shebab

EU foreign chief due in Saudi Arabia for talks on Iran, Yemen

Kurds cut key jihadist supply route in northern Syria

Turkey could "change the balance" in Syria

Rebel fire kills Syrian reporter in Damascus

Turkish tanks shell Kurdish-held Syria village

Saudi-led coalition suspends Yemen air war

13 killed in Mogadishu hotel car bomb attack

Bomb blast kills at least six people in Somalia capital

Death toll from Nile boat crash rises to 36

Pro-Hadi forces battle retreating rebels in south Yemen

Iraq forces retake university campus on edge of Ramadi

Egypt extends state of emergency in parts of Sinai Peninsula

Clashes erupt as Israel security forces raid Al-Aqsa mosque compound

Fatigue, but not defeat: Syria army faces manpower shortage

Fragile truce in danger as Turkey blames PKK for deadly attack