World News

Qatar sheikh says UAE holding him 'in captivity'

Posted January 14, 2018 2:43 p.m. EST

— A member of Qatar's royal family said Sunday he is being held against his will in the United Arab Emirates, a claim disputed by the UAE government, which said he is free to move as he pleases.

Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, the brother of Qatar's former ruler, said in a video on Twitter that he is "in a state of captivity" in Abu Dhabi.

"They told me do not leave. I am worried that I am to be accused of something. I just want to inform you that if anything happened to me, Qatar is innocent and I am under the hospitality of Sheikh Mohammed and if anything were to happen to me, then it's on him," Al Thani said, referring to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

Al Thani did not say where in Abu Dhabi he is.

The state-run UAE news agency WAM quoted a source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying Al Thani has had "unrestrained mobility and freedom of movement" during his stay.

"Subsequently Sheikh Abdullah had expressed his desire to leave the UAE, following which all measures were taken to honor his desire without any reservations," the news agency reported.

Qatar's government is observing the situation closely, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater told the state-run Qatar News Agency.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar last year. They accused Qatar of funding terrorism, a charge it denies.

Gulf neighbors have also criticized Qatar for an increasingly close relationship with Iran.

The source who spoke to the WAM news agency called Al Thani's statement a "fabrication of facts, which is symptomatic of the general trend in which the state of Qatar continues to fabricate lies and half-truths."

Al Thani is seen by Gulf countries as having supported the Saudi and UAE positions toward Qatar.

In October, Al Thani tweeted that Qatari authorities had frozen his assets and funds. He also wrote that he hoped Qatar would "expel opportunists and friends of interests and return to the Gulf embrace."

Also in October, Saudi state media reported Al Thani visited Saudi Arabia and met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that he called on Qatari officials to meet to discuss the rift.