Diplomat: Saudi never sought to host ousted Egyptian president

Hatem Maher, Sunday 23 Oct 2011

At no point did Riyadh offer Mubarak post-revolution political refuge, Saudi ambassador says in televised interview

Hosni Mubarak
Toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (Photo: Reuters)

Saudi Arabia never sought to host former president Hosni Mubarak following his February ouster, the Saudi ambassador to Egypt stated on Saturday night.

“At no point did Saudi Arabia offer to host former president Mubarak,” Ambassador Ahmed Al-Qattan said in an interview broadcast live on private Egyptian satellite television network Orbit.

In the first few months after Egypt’s revolution, a number of reports had suggested that Mubarak might follow in the footsteps of former Tunisian president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali – the first Arab head of state to fall victim to the “Arab Spring” – and find refuge in Saudi Arabia.

According to Al-Qattan, however, such a scenario was never on the table.

“Mubarak was determined to stay in Egypt because he was convinced that he did nothing wrong,” the diplomat said. “He had several opportunities to leave the country, both before and after he stepped down, but he turned them down.”

“When he flew to Sharm El-Sheikh [ostensibly for medical treatment], he could have easily gone on to Saudi Arabia,” Al-Qattan added. “The case was different from that of Ben Ali, who asked us to host him.”

Mubarak, along with a number of his inner circle – including his two sons, Alaa and Gamal – now faces a host of criminal charges. These include the killing of unarmed protesters during Egypt’s 18-day uprising and illegal profiteering.

The 83-year-old former head of state is currently staying at Egypt’s international hospital complex on the Ismailia desert road.

“Even if Mubarak had wanted stay in Saudi Arabia, who would have given him permission to do so?” Al-Qattan said in the interview.

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