Saudi Arabia would ‘cut off’ minister’s head, says former official’s daughter

Image copyright AFP Image caption The embassy has declined to comment on recent comments by Ayala al-Issa The daughter of a former Saudi Arabian official has told CNN that her family was approached by…

Saudi Arabia would 'cut off' minister's head, says former official's daughter

Image copyright AFP Image caption The embassy has declined to comment on recent comments by Ayala al-Issa

The daughter of a former Saudi Arabian official has told CNN that her family was approached by Saudi Arabia to find her when she was in an Istanbul airport last year.

Fakhri al-Issa said her father’s uncle visited the consulate in early June 2018 looking for her – but she was in hiding.

Ms al-Issa claimed her father and her family were held hostage as part of a power struggle for the succession to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi foreign ministry, however, said the claims were false.

Daughter of Saudi official says kingdom tried to lure her to consulate in Istanbul

Ms al-Issa did not reveal the identity of the uncle. She said the consulate was able to contact her on June 12 2018 via an email address that appeared on a mobile phone contact list.

She said Saudi Arabia sent an agent to the airport and instructed him to wait for her so they could question her.

“He tried a few times to give me a cell phone to call my father,” she said.

Her grandmother knew the agent was from Saudi Arabia, she said, and she told him to stop contacting her.

No one from the Saudi embassy was immediately available for comment on Ms al-Issa’s comments.

Ms al-Issa previously told CNN that a suicide bomber had struck inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey while she was there, though it has never been confirmed what caused the bombing.

On Sunday, she told CNN that Mr bin Salman was upset with her uncle, Prince Naif al-Faisal, and persuaded him to resign from his role as the governor of Riyadh.

He told him, said Ms al-Issa, that Mr bin Salman’s future lay with the security services.

Fakhri al-Issa also rejected reports that a disgruntled senior royal told the Interior Ministry that Prince Naif had attempted to rescue Ms al-Issa.

“The Saudis made it clear from the beginning that I was not part of the change – I had nothing to do with it and I know nothing about it,” she said.

Ms al-Issa said she knew something was wrong when her grandmother gave her a phone after the assassination attempt.

“After the wedding – this time on 23 July – my grandmother came home, and told me that I was not in the house, because she told me that something was wrong,” she said.

“My grandfather was not allowed to talk to my uncle, and he was not given documents, so he was not in the country. He was detained.”

She said the family had been wrongly accused of being Muslim extremists and had feared being taken to detention centres or death camps in Saudi Arabia.

For her mother, Ms al-Issa said, being locked up in the Riyadh compound had been like an “incarceration in hell”.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Fakhri al-Issa said Saudi authorities used fake stories about her as leverage in a struggle for power

Ms al-Issa also said that her father contacted her several times, and was afraid he might be killed.

“I sent the crown prince texts, but he did not respond,” she said.

“In July 2018, I received a phone call from Saudi Arabia and the negotiator said ‘If you do not give me your father’s passport, we will cut off your head’.”

She said she didn’t know who her father was after he was stripped of all his titles last year.

“I wish he was alive so that we could talk and that it’s not about my case,” she said.

“I would prefer that my dad – if he is still alive – should be thrown in jail, then that he should go and look for my mother and I can live in peace.”

Saudi Arabia has yet to respond to her claims of abduction.

It has previously denied claims from Mr al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States, that he had been stripped of all his duties by Mr bin Salman in June.

The Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel reported on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry had launched an investigation into an incident in which its embassy staff were attacked by armed protesters in Istanbul, the largest city in the Turkish republic.

The Saudi embassy in Turkey declined to comment on the report.

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