Saudi Arabia kidnaps woman in Istanbul consulate

Image copyright EPA Image caption Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid al-Qasimi is an activist

The daughter of a former Saudi minister says her family was followed by the kingdom as she entered an Istanbul consulate as part of a secret meeting to seek her safe return.

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid al-Qasimi has gone public to condemn her own government for the “criminal” act.

An official report said the abduction attempt on Saturday was launched without a prior court order.

The Saudi interior ministry has said the official in the case will be dismissed, and the Istanbul consulate detained.

The sheikhha, who was studying in Budapest at the time, had been in Istanbul at the time of the kidnap attempt.

She told the BBC she had been targeted by the kingdom as an alleged supporter of Muslim Brotherhood, a militant group which is not recognised by the Saudi government.

Lubna is currently back in the Netherlands with her two children.

In an interview with the BBC’s World Today programme, Sheikha Lubna made it clear she does not support the group.

But she said she had supported the family of a former Saudi ambassador.

She said the attempted abduction was linked to her involvement in the anti-government protests in Egypt in 2013.

Mubarak supporters launched a campaign to have Egypt’s first female vice-president, Omar Suleiman, acquitted of inciting murder after it was alleged she had sent an email supporting the demonstration.

After that, “people started to get angry,” Sheikha Lubna said.

“When people are angry and they are hurt they don’t think to think what happens next. They automatically follow what happens.

“So if they think my own father is supportive to that position [to overthrow the government], they think, and immediately they start to blame her.”

In the interview, she explained that her father, Sheikha Lubna bint Ahmad al-Saud, is an ally of deposed former Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood group, but she said she was not actively supporting the movement or Mursi.

She told BBC’s Today programme that her family had invited her to be an adviser to her father and had offered to house her if she lived in the kingdom if she stayed away from all political activity.

Her father, Sheikha Lubna said, has issued a decree in order to apply the holy month of Ramadan to help facilitate an investigation into what happened.

Sheikha Lubna added that authorities had promised to help her get a visa to Turkey to file a lawsuit against those responsible.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Sheikha Lubna is in the Netherlands with her two children

In a statement, the Saudi ministry of interior said Saudi authorities had asked Turkish authorities to investigate the “criminal act” and “humiliate those responsible”.

The ministry added it was “outraged” by the development and ordered the investigation be concluded without delay.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities had asked Turkey to provide the information on those who planned the attempt, and to impose an international handover of the culprits,” it said.

This is not the first time that the sheikhha has made criticism of her family’s government known.

She later told a news conference in Istanbul in 2015 that she felt “completely offended” and “unwelcome” by Saudi authorities, after she refused to attend a family festival “regardless of the permit issued”.

In that same year, she said she was forced to cancel a visit to the Gulf kingdom.

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