Morocco: Children escape to Norway, father accuses Norway of abduction

Morocco: Children escape to Norway, father accuses Norway of abduction

Much as happened three and half years ago in the case of the Dutch Sarah and Ammar Hafez in Damascus, two children escaped from their father's home in Morocco and made their way to the Norwegian embassy asking for protection.  In this case, though, they stayed by the Norwegian diplomats for just one week before leaving the country and getting to Norway.  However, according to Moroccan law, the children could not leave the country without their father's permission. 

The father, Khalid Skah,  former Olympic medalist for Norway and a Norwegian citizen, is now wanted in Norway (NO) for kidnapping, threats and violence against his wife and two children.  He is accused of having threatned to kill them during a car-trip in Morocco.  Again, similarly to the Syrian case, Skah believes the embassy was involved in abducting his kids and has issued death threats against the ambassador.  One emabassy worker was attacked (NO) by unknown people.


A child custody battle between a Moroccan former Olympic athlete and his estranged Norwegian wife has strained diplomatic ties after Morocco said Norway helped spirit the two children away from their father.

The children aged 16 and 13 spent time at the Norwegian ambassador's residence in Rabat last week before they were smuggled out of the country, Morocco's Foreign Ministry said.

Norway says it did nothing wrong, that the children were held in Morocco against their will and it had feared for their safety. The two have joint Moroccan and Norwegian nationality.

"His Majesty the King's government denounces the clear involvement of the Norwegian embassy in this illegal exit from national territory," the Moroccan foreign ministry said in a statement after it summoned the Norwegian ambassador.

It said the Vienna Convention on diplomatic activity had been flouted and accused Norway's embassy of acting in an inconsiderate manner and making contradictory statements.

Moroccan newspapers said the children were kidnapped from their father Khalid Skah, who separated from his wife Anner Cecilie Hopstock in 2006. Skah won a gold medal in the 10,000 metres at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

"On Sunday last week, the two Norwegian citizens approached the Norwegian embassy fearing for their lives," said a spokesman for the Norwegian government. "They were therefore accepted into the embassy to stay for a few days."

He said Hopstock came to take them back to Norway and denied that the Norwegian government had helped them leave Morocco.

"After so many months being concerned for their safety, we are happy they are back safely with their mother," he added.  Continued...

Hopstock told Norwegian media that she had travelled with Skah and their children to Morocco in 2006. She said he locked them up in separate rooms and took away their passports.

She returned to Norway in January 2007 and the children were meant to follow but Skah kept them in Morocco.


Source: Reuters (English)

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