The Telegraph . Tue, December 15, 2020, 2:53 PM GMT+1
Saudi Arabia sought to deploy a ten-man security team with diplomatic immunity to Norway in an attempt to target a critic of Mohammad bin Salman, the Kingdom’s Crown Prince, according to Norwegian media reports.
Dagbladet, one of Norway’s largest newspapers, reported that Saudi Arabia requested in the summer of 2018 that all members of the “mysterious” team were granted diplomatic immunity – but Norwegian authorities refused.
The newspaper said that “Saudi Arabia wanted to send ten men on an official assignment to Norway,” and that they were embassy security guards who wished to receive diplomatic immunity.
It added that Iyad el-Baghdadi, a prominent critic of the Crown Prince living in exile in Norway, had been warned about the Saudi request by Norwegian authorities. The CIA has also reportedly warned him about a potential threat from Saudi Arabia.
Mr Baghdadi has previously said that he fears recriminations by Saudi Arabia against him and his family, but the Kingdom denies this.
A Norwegian government spokesman confirmed to Dagbladet the Saudi request for immunity, but said it was only granted to one of the 10 security staff.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman listens during a meeting with President Donald Trump at the G20 – AP
The security team request was issued in the same year that Saudi agents murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, in the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. Saudi Arabia has condemned the killing, which it says was carried out by rogue agents.
In an interview with Dagbladet, Mr Baghdadi said he fears for his safety and suggested that Saudi forces may have sought to target him because he was a friend of Khashoggi.
“At that time, Saudi Arabia was completely obsessed about Jamal Khashoggi,” he told the newspaper.
“I am sure they had people watching him, and I was with him all the time. If they sent a team, I would assume it was to find out what was going on between me and Khashoggi.”
When contacted by Dagbladet, Saudi Arabia denied the allegations. It said Mr Baghdadi was “not a Saudi citizen” and was “unknown to the Kingdom,” but added that he had published “false” claims that were aimed to “offend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The Saudi government did not respond to a request for comment.