After sending a press release last week, Tayeb Benabderrahmane’s defense moved up a gear on Wednesday afternoon with the holding of a press conference. The appointment was given for two days in a living room of a luxurious hotel in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. His three lawyers – My Luke Vidal, Juan Branco and Nabil Boudi – traded for more than an hour with the many journalists present. In the program: “Give explanations” about the arrest of their client in Qatar in early 2020 and reveal “his truth in this matter”.
On his profile: “The classic profile of a French investor abroad”
“He is a French businessman who has been active for fifteen years now in geopolitical and geoeconomic consulting through various networks. And who, as part of his activities, has met a certain number of actors that have enabled him to carry out numerous missions in France and abroad, often linked to crisis situations.
It is in this context that he was contacted by the Qatari authorities in a context of economic and political boycott to invest his network, his knowledge, his expertise. Thus he came into contact with prominent personalities in Qatar and he settled there with his family. He developed his consulting business and continued to provide his services to the country. In short, the classic profile of a French investor abroad. Until 13 January 2020… »
On his arrest and detention: “Pressure and torture”
“That day, he was arrested in the morning by local security forces. His apartment was searched, his material and intellectual assets were seized. He was then placed in secret detention, subjected for several weeks to pressure and torture to obtain information and, above all, to force him to return, through his wife, all the information at his disposal. He was then pulled out of the center when they were handed over, before being placed under house arrest and leaving the country on 1 November 2020.
On the allegations: “No support from the French authorities”
“At no time were his fundamental rights respected. He did not have consular protection nor the right to a fair and accessible legal process. Nor did any judicial or police authority attempt to free him from the situation in which he had been placed or attempt to investigate his arrest. His reaction was gradual but immediate. The criminal complaint this summer is only the result of a series of measures, amicable and then contested, carried out by himself, alone and in the face of silence, without the support of the French authorities.
It is under these conditions that at the end of August-beginning of September (2022), he decided to step up his response and initiate criminal proceedings. There are two complaints. The first, against X, for acts of torture and the second for acts of extortion, also aimed at X, but targeting all the people who participated in those negotiations until his release on documents. »
On the supposed role of Al-Khelaïfi: “He had something to fear”
“This extortion was carried out at the request of one person: Nasser al-Khelaïfi (hands over a document signed by “NAK” stating that he is directly involved in the arrest). The latter forced him to renounce any publication of potentially compromising documents while detained in Qatar and his alleged lawyers (of the time) pressured his family to retrieve the items and sign this protocol (of confidentiality). Al-Khelaïfi, one of the most powerful people in the world, tried to prevent any information about him from being shared.
For Qatar, the whole issue is to stifle this kind of business because we touch on big strategic issues. Our client was seen as an obstacle and football was used as a tool to exploit for direct political purposes. If they took all these risks (to stop it), is that the concern is important. And if Al-Khelaïfi was personally involved, it was because he had something to fear. »
On the consequences: “This case is quite extensive”
“What we are witnessing is akin to a state scandal. He (their client) does not resemble the thousands of victims that the Qatari regime has made in recent years, among foreign workers and political opponents. He is a miracle and his life is still in great danger today. Hence the desire to make his voice heard and know his story. This calls into question the absolute silence that has imposed itself in France. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs was first informed, as was the French ambassador in Qatar. The steps were repeated in January, still no response.
Why has France remained silent? We have the right to expect answers. Did France deliberately remain silent and deliberately cover up a foreign state? The networks of corruption that Qatar has created go far beyond what we believe. This case is quite extensive. There are interests among lawyers, politicians, former ministers and elected officials. It is therefore necessary to investigate to find out whether he was subjected to torture in Qatar and, above all, whether French actors are complicit, including those who have remained silent. Some interlocutors in Paris were aware of the abuse he was subjected to. »
On his recent indictment over suspected confidential leaks: ‘An overly egregious backlash’
“The investigation for which he is targeted does not concern him at the outset, and the violation of privacy, which was one of the initial charges, also fell during his appearance before the investigating judge. He has been charged but remains free, only placed under judicial control. We are used to these attempts at firefighting, which are far too crude. There will be an extraordinary offensive to destroy our client after trying to make him disappear. »
On his condition: “A broken man”
“His position was a broken man when he returned to France. We have concrete and objective elements, including medical reports, which allow us to say that during his detention he was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. There have also been direct threats to his family, such as poisoning his children or permanently damaging his integrity.
It was a lasting trauma that his wife still feels. Everyone around him suffered from these facts. Imagine the level of fear that must have inhabited him in recent months. He was subjected to extraordinary violence, he is trying to rebuild himself and hopes that justice will be done. For him and for all the other people who may have known of similar facts without being able to be heard. »