KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Saudi Arabia-based daughter of a former high-ranking official in the kingdom’s diplomatic corps was brought to a consulate in Istanbul by Saudi officials and met with an official from the kingdom’s Royal Guard, authorities in Turkey and Florida said Thursday.
The daughter, Khashayar al-Otaibi, denies that there was any attempt to ensnare her in any conspiracy, according to a statement provided to the Washington Post by attorneys with the firm WilmerHale in Washington. The statement is her first public comments on the incident.
Officials in Saudi Arabia, however, were unable to provide details about the meeting when reached by the Post on Thursday. Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington said they could not comment on the identity of the person the Saudi embassy official allegedly brought to the consulate or on the purpose of the meeting.
Khashayar al-Otaibi’s attorney, Lisa Artner, of WilmerHale, told the Post that according to U.S. consular procedures, the Saudi high-ranking official known as Mr. Al Faisal, formerly the Saudi ambassador to Egypt, met with Turkish authorities in Istanbul on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, requesting help in gaining custody of her daughter.
“The consulate’s response was that the consulate and the embassy did not do anything wrong, that all procedures were followed and that this was not a crime,” said Artner, adding that the embassy also denied any involvement in an attempt to entrap al-Otaibi.
Saudi officials in Washington told Artner that the consulate assisted Mr. Al Faisal in obtaining custody of her daughter.
Consular officials in the Turkish city of Adana told the Post on Thursday that consulate officials had met with a Saudi official, whom they identified as Mr. Al Faisal, on Dec. 13 to work out custody arrangements for the child. In late December, according to a Turkish security official, the Saudi consulate in Adana called and again requested custody arrangements, the official said.
The official said that after that, the consulate contacted al-Otaibi’s parents to inform them of the meeting they were about to have with the Saudi official in Istanbul. The parents then traveled to the Turkish capital of Ankara to meet with the Saudi official in person on Jan. 7, the official said.
The Saudi official whom the consulate contacted represented the royal guard, not the Saudi embassy, the official said. Turkish intelligence officials are aware of this detail, the official said.
Two other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said al-Otaibi’s father was Saudi ambassador to Washington from 2008 to 2011.
The high-ranking Saudi official, who Turkish officials said first met Khashayar al-Otaibi in Saudi Arabia, returned to the consulate for an unspecified meeting with her daughter on Jan. 21, the sources said.
“He told her he was her father,” the Turkish security official said. “When she said she did not recognize him, the [Saudi official] said, ‘My name is Prince Sultan.’”
Khashayar al-Otaibi fled to Florida in early January and said she would face up to 15 years in prison if she returned to Saudi Arabia. She pleaded for help in reaching her daughter in Turkey.
“I am afraid the whole world will know and it will affect her for the rest of her life,” she said in a statement to the Post. “He said he would do everything possible to achieve my return to Saudi Arabia. I have been looking for my daughter since August. I have used all means available to find her, but to no avail. I am sure that whoever cares about my child would come and make sure she is safe.”
Turkish officials accused the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of doing all it could to expedite al-Otaibi’s return to Saudi Arabia, according to the Turkish security official. The consulate officials told the Turkish authorities that the woman who claimed to be Mr. Al Faisal could be lying about her identity and pose a danger to al-Otaibi’s family, the official said.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was named the new king of Saudi Arabia by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.