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.

 

Post-coup Turkey continues military shake-up

Egypt Christians hope for end to discrimination with new law

Morocco arrests 52 suspects planning to set up ISIS branch

HRW accuses Syria, Russia of using banned cluster munitions

Study says lack of exercise cost world $67.5 billion

Egypt former anti-graft head gets jail term for exaggeration

Rebels form 'supreme council' to run war-torn Yemen

France, Britain call for end to Aleppo siege

Al-Qaeda OKs breaking ties with Syria affiliate

Croatia arrests Kurdish man wanted by Turkey

Tunisian army kills two 'terrorists'

Turkey sees over 40% drop in visitors

Assad offers amnesty to Syria rebels if they surrender

Second France church attacker formally identified

Clinton camp accuses Trump of inviting foreign spying

Coalition opens formal investigation into Syria civilian deaths

Pope to journalists: 'World at war', but not a religious war

Turkey warns post-coup crackdown ‘not completed yet’

Egypt top Muslim cleric denounces murder of French priest

Russia denies meddling in US election campaign

Syria regime kills 16 civilians in Aleppo assault

Killer of France priest was 'Syria obsessed time-bomb'

Netanyahu defends war record after protest by parents of dead soldiers

44 dead in double bomb blast in Syria Kurdish city

Marketplace bomb in Yemen kills 7

Kuwait jails Shiite MP for insulting Arab Gulf states

Iran presidential election set for May 2017

ISIS claims deadly bombing in Syria Kurdish city

Bahrain tries prominent Shiite cleric

Turkey planning anti-Gulen army purge before coup

Turkey issues more arrest warrants for journalists

Israeli raid kills Hamas member said to be behind attack

Saudi condemns "in the strongest terms" deadly attack on France church

Egypt has asked IMF for financial support

Shabaab says suicide bomber was ex-Somali MP

Bahrain refers 138 ‘terror’ suspects to court

Brutal attacks reignite political friction in Germany

Weakened army still faces twin challenges in Turkey

Turkey detains top generals, prominent journalists in widening purge

Hamas 'summer camp' trains dozens of young people for war

Palestinians seek to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour Declaration

UN hopes Syria peace talks can resume late August

Israeli authorities destroy 11 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Libya demands explanation over presence of French troops

ISIS claims attack on French church in Normandy