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.

 

Ansar al-Sharia denies killing of Abu Iyadh in US air strike

Egypt President in Sinai after jihadist attacks on security forces

Hezbollah backs Syria army in major assault on border city

No guarantee of success as Iran nuclear talks inch closer to lasting deal

Lawlessness in Libya poses real danger for Tunisia

Erdogan moots possibility of snap election

Coalitions of Syria rebels battle regime forces in Aleppo

Syria mosque explosion kills at least 25 Nusra fighters

Yemen Huthi rebels ‘attack’ various areas in Saudi Arabia

Egypt ‘in state of war’ on second anniversary of Islamist ouster

Rockets from Sinai strike Israel

Palestinians arrest 100 Hamas members in West Bank

Erdogan inaugurates public mosque in palace

Islamists form alliance in battle for Aleppo

Top Tunisian jihadist reportedly killed by US strike in Libya

Emir attends joint Shiite, Sunni prayers in Kuwait

Hamas denies involvement in Sinai attacks

4 Qaeda suspects killed in US drone attack in Yemen

'Series of errors' behind Air Algerie crash in Mali

Ankara has no plans for imminent intervention in Syria

21 killed in clashes, strikes in Yemen's Aden

GCC states vow united stand against IS mosque bombings

Palestinians protest one year after teenager burned alive

Egypt vows to wipe out 'dens of terror'

Tunisia arrests eight in connection with beach massacre

Youth in Tunisia 'ripe for radicalisation'

UN sends mission to 'assess' South Sudan atrocities

Syria urges citizens to enlist

AQAP step up campaign to eradicate qat

Iraq Christians train for jihad against IS

British FM: 'No breakthrough yet' in Iran nuclear talks

UN imposes first sanctions on six South Sudan generals

Libya rival governments will not return to peace talks

Fighting rages in Yemen’s Aden

Egypt government adopts anti-terror law

Kurds warn Turkey against any ‘aggression’ in Syria

Kuwait makes DNA tests mandatory after suicide bombing

Kuwait parliament approves deficit budget on oil slide

Pro-Erdogan candidate becomes new speaker of Turkey parliament

‘War’ in Sinai Peninsula as clashes with ISIS fighters rage on

All 38 victims of Tunisia beach massacre identified

36 killed in wave of IS attack on Egyptian soldiers

Iran vs. Israel gets cartoon treatment

IAEA chief to fly to Iran for nuclear talks

Saudi prince pledges fortune to charity