Jordan Denies Barring Qatari Ambassador, Flight Crew from Leaving Kingdom
Jordan on Friday denied preventing the Qatari ambassador from leaving the kingdom along with the three-member crew of a Qatari Airways aircraft grounded in Amman's Queen Alia Airport since June 14.
Information Minister Saleh Qallab told AFP that Ambassador Abderrahman bin Jassem Al Thani was a "dear brother and the ambassador of a brotherly country and can leave from the VIP lounge" whenever he wishes.
"We were surprised last night to learn that the Qatari ambassador in Amman wanted to travel to Doha accompanied by the crew, without the arrival of a replacement crew, so we told him this violated international law," Qallab said.
Friday morning, the Jordanian authorities were again surprised to see the ambassador arrive at the airport along with the crew.
"Airport officials told the ambassador that he can leave from the VIP lounge of the airport" as befits his status "but that the crew cannot leave unless they are replaced," Qallab said.
"The ambassador was never mistreated, he is a dear brother who has our full respect and esteem...and we are still linked by strong ties (to Qatar) which we are determined to maintain," Qallab said.
"International law states that any country has the right to refuse the departure of the crew of a plane at its airport unless an alternate crew is sent to replace the initial crew," Qallab said.
Thani told Al Jazeera satellite channel over phone that security agents at Queen Alia Airport blocked the way of his car as he was taking the crew to board a Gulf Air flight back home.
The envoy protested against what he called “forced withholding of Qatari citizens against their will,” a violation of international norms. He said the authorities had no right to stop his car, which had a diplomatic plate number and a Qatari flag posted at its front.
He added that he was not told the ban was a mere postponement of the crew’s return.
Qatar's cabinet demanded Wednesday the immediate return of the Qatar Airways plane that it said had been illegally grounded at the Amman airport.
The cabinet, at its weekly meeting, expressed "regret for the continued grounding of the Qatar Airways plane by Jordanian authorities, which is contrary to international conventions," the official QNA news agency reported, cited by AFP.
It demanded the "immediate return of the plane and the remaining crew members,” denouncing "statements by our brothers in Jordan that do not serve the interests of fraternal interests between the two countries."
Three crew members remained in Amman after five air stewardesses returned to Doha on Tuesday aboard a Gulf Air flight, Qatar's Al Watan newspaper reported.
Hamas spokesman Ibrahim Ghoshe flew into Queen Alia Airport unexpectedly last Thursday from his exile in Doha aboard the Qatari Airways plane. He was refused entry into Jordan and the aircraft has since been grounded.
Qallab said Sunday that Ghoshe, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, would stay at the airport until Qatar flew him back to his exile in the Gulf emirate.
Jordan has repeatedly said Ghoshe would be allowed to return to Amman only if he renounced his Hamas membership.
In Damascus, meanwhile, a Hamas communiqué called for Ghoshe's release, saying he was in poor health and in need of constant medical care.
It said Ghoshe, 65, "suffers from hypertension and other maladies requiring permanent treatment under medical supervision."
Keeping him at the airport for the past six days and not admitting him to hospital could be "dangerous for his health," the statement said.
But Qallab said in response that the Islamist was in good health and under medical care.
Hamas also criticized Amman for refusing to allow Ghoshe to see his lawyers and called for the government to "put an end to this unjust sequestration." – Albawaba.com
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