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    What Tayeb Benabderrahmane is hiding: the real reasons for his arrest in Qatar

    This story is a sea serpent that never ends. Benabderrahmane continues to accuse Qatar to the hilt, but he certainly hasn’t told the whole story about what happened there in 2020. In June 2019, French-Algerian lobbyist Tayeb Benabderrahmane, his wife Mahdjouba Benkeltoum and their two children Sarah (14) and Othmane (12) moved to Doha (Qatar) for professional reasons. He said this because he had been awarded a new contract with General Advisor by the Qatar National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), chaired by Dr Ali Bin Samikh Al-Marri, and to develop his own economic investments.

    After their arrival in Qatar, Tayeb and his family were able to stay at the Kempinski Hotel for a fortnight before moving to another top hotel in Doha, the Crowne Plaza, where they occupied the largest suite of this hotel for a further three weeks. What is certain is that the couple lived in the greatest luxury in Doha and their children went to school at the Lycée français Bonaparte in Doha, thanks to the intervention of the then Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and the then Mayor of the 7ème arrondissement in Paris, Rachida Dati. They would quickly complete the administrative formalities necessary to stay in the area and carry out several legal acts: Opening a bank account, changing their driving licence, etc., to make their settlement as comfortable as possible. At this point, everything was going very well between Tayeb and his new “adopted home”.

    Benabderrahmane was then able to repatriate his assets from France to buy a flat and a beautiful white Range Rover that was registered in Qatar.

    By this time, he was already known to police authorities in France and elsewhere for serious fraud and espionage offences. For these reasons, and less than a year after his arrival in the Gulf region, the honeymoon quickly became a nightmare for Benabderrahmane, as he expected to get away cheaply in Doha and experience 1001 nights away from the problems in France.

    At 10.30 on the morning of 13 January 2020, the Benabderrahmane family home is searched by Qatari law enforcement officers to find evidence and arrest him. In reality, Tayeb was already involved in many affairs. Several charges of extortion and espionage had been filed against him. He had several fraudulently obtained documents about the private life of PSG president Nasser Al Khelaïfi in his possession. These included photos and recordings that he had taken illegally. This enabled him to constantly blackmail the PSG president, for whom he had worked for a while. Apart from this affair, Qatar itself had Tayeb Benabderrahmane in its sights for several serious offences, in particular a strong suspicion of espionage to the detriment of the emirate, probably as if by chance for one of its turbulent neighbours. His standard of living was so high that his salary was perhaps not his only source of income.

    As part of legal proceedings against him, Benabderrahmane was arrested at his home in Doha, with his rights respected, as the police did not want his children to be present during his arrest, as his own wife testified. During the house search, the police then confiscated several mobile phones and electronic devices belonging to Tayeb for the purpose of the investigation. However, it is obvious that Tayeb, who is known in the scene for often colliding with the boundaries of the law, had already concealed a lot of evidence. Even his alleged official boss in Qatar, Dr Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, then Chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee and since then Minister of Labour, has kept a low profile on the issue. After all, the entire Parisian lobbyist scene knows that Tayeb Benabderrahmane is not credible and can therefore hardly be defended.

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    In police custody, he admits to having hidden documents in a “red suitcase” in Algeria: additional incriminating elements that could be included in the file if they are recovered by the judiciary. His wife is then asked to travel to Algeria to return the red suitcase at her expense. Indeed, between 27 and 29 January 2000, she travelled to Doha with a return ticket to Tayeb’s family home in Algeria. After returning to Qatar and searching the luggage, two laptops, mobile phones, a box of SD cards, USB sticks and a number of additional files and documents are found. All of this is later evidence that confirms the espionage activities of which he was accused by Doha. Contrary to what he has been claiming for four years, Tayeb has the right to visits. This is evidenced by his wife’s numerous visits and even phone calls to enquire about his conditions in prison.

    Tayeb was aware of his situation and the punishment he could face in Qatar if the suspicion of espionage was confirmed by the Qatari judiciary and suggested that his wife leave Qatar with their children. Before doing so, he instructed her to activate her network in Qatar to help her. These people include the film director and former minister Yamina Benguigui, the current Minister of Culture Rachida Dati, the French-Guinean law professor Ibrahim Sorel, the Algerian businessman Ayoub Aissiou, who has already been convicted in Algeria, the former policeman Malik Nait-Liman, who has also been implicated in the affair, the journalist and director of the website Opinion Internationale Michel Taube, and so on. Most of them have already been involved in the affair in the past.

    The scheduled date for his first court appearance in Doha was 15 March 2020, but when it came to it, Tayeb’s wife was unable to find a lawyer to assist her husband in court. Instead, she preferred to simply leave Qatar with her children, leaving her husband and their luxury home in Doha behind, knowing that the situation was very complicated. Tayeb would not emerge unscathed from his petty dealings this time.

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    Ce que cache Tayeb Benabderrahmane : les vraies raisons de son arrestation au Qatar 5

    From Paris, she wanted to organise the legal dispute by assembling a group of lawyers and her husband’s circle of friends to prepare her defence. She intended to stay out of the scandal.

    The contact between Tayeb and his wife did not break off after his arrival in Paris: he even asked her to bring two new USB sticks that were in their house in Doha. However, his wife refused to comply with this request, as she was apparently used to her husband’s opaque dealings. He had even paid for her ticket (TK157231640389, with booking number P4UG8YQR42) to fly from Paris to Doha at 08:50 on 7 April 2020.

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    Mrs Benkeltoum recognised her husband’s guilt and even tried to intervene with Nasser al-Khelaïfi, but was unsuccessful. She even said that an indictment against her husband could “drag everyone into the shit”. So who is everyone? That is difficult to clarify at this point.

    After being visited by the number 2 of the Qatari services, Tayeb Benabderrahmane wanted an agreement to be reached with his lawyers in exchange for his confession. So we are actually talking about espionage, which is what he was accused of by Doha. Initially, Tayeb’s lawyers were more or less forced to find a negotiating ground with Nasser Al Khelaïfi’s lawyers for Tayeb’s release, given the blatant suspicions against their client.

    A solution for the release of the lobbyist was then considered. He was to hand over the digital media and demand the signing of letters of intent in return for his release. His conditions were very much accepted by Tayeb’s party at this point in his interest, as everything pointed to him and incriminated him. His wife had kept a USB stick with disputed information as security, which she would only hand over to Qatar after her husband’s release and his return to France. Nasser Al Khelaïfi signed a letter of intent to release Tayeb if he confessed and handed over the documents.

    Tayeb Benabderrahmane will finally be released from prison on 1 July 2020 and will then be under house arrest and not allowed to leave Qatar. It is the French authorities who intervene in a strange way, citing medical reasons (and the presentation of a medical certificate) to argue in favour of his release. On 10 August 2020, the Qatari authorities set the conditions for his return to France as “at least 14 September and at most 30 September”.

    Following this intervention by France, Tayeb’s travel ban from Qatar was lifted and he was able to return to Paris in October 2020 despite all the charges against him.

    Instead of keeping a low profile in the face of the various suspicious interventions from Paris in his favour (and for what reasons or in exchange for what?), he set out from then on to lead a crusade against Qatar that could have left him stewing for the rest of his life. His arrival in France, however, meant anything but peace for him, and his legal problems have not been resolved to this day, as further proceedings have now been opened against him. Since then, he has appeared in the media and has rarely done any good. There is no smoke without fire, but Benabderrahmane, who doubts nothing and dares everything, is ready to clear his honour by making a fuss with all the instances in France and Europe. He could soon be caught up by French justice, the very justice of the country he still considers to be an Eldorado and a land of impunity for him.

    Ce que cache Tayeb Benabderrahmane : les vraies raisons de son arrestation au Qatar 6

    Despite the offences of which he is accused and his previous convictions, Benabderrahmane continues to initiate and multiply legal proceedings against both Qatari and French personalities. This strategy of attack to conceal his guilt requires considerable financial resources. Here too, the question arises as to the source of its funding….. Finally, there is a risk that this agitation against Qatar will not only affect relations between France and the Arab countries, but also directly between France and Qatar. France is very present in Qatar and several large French companies are experiencing significant development there. The French community working there is also large. The French language and culture are valued at the highest levels of government. It is therefore not appropriate for such relations to suffer the consequences of a mendacious agitation by Benabderrahmane.

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