Aller au contenu principal

Palestinian ambassador to Serbia denies he sold visas to migrants

Mohamed Nabhan denied the accusations, and said they were the result of exposing Mohammed Dahlan's property ownership in Serbia
An image of Mohamed Nabhan, the Palestinian ambassador to Siberia (Twitter)
Par MEE staff

The Palestinian ambassador to Serbia has denied reports published by the Serbian newspaper Blic, which charge that he had taken advantage of his diplomatic position and sold dozens of visas to wealthy migrants passing through the country.

The paper reported that Mohamed Nabhan sold visas to migrants mostly from Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Jordan at a price ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 euros, in order for them to travel unhindered to western Europe via Serbia.

“The security sources are currently investigating the Palestinian ambassador who is suspected of abusing his position and his involvement with a network selling visas to migrants,” Blic said.

For his part, Nabhan published a denial on his Facebook account, calling the charges “pure fabrications and lies” printed by “yellow papers”.

“This newspaper is not official and is classified as a tabloid paper owned by the Ringer Axel Springer Company based in Zurich, Switzerland,” Nabhan wrote. “[The company] is known as a public relations and propaganda outlet for the Zionist lobby in Europe.”

According to sources from the security services cited by Blic, the Palestinian embassy in Belgrade forwarded to the Serbian Foreign Affairs Ministry at least 43 notes for 122 people applying for a visa between the months of January and June.

The same sources cited by the Serbian newspaper said that until 19 June, Nabhan was coordinating with a senior official within the Serbian Ministry of Interior and gave him a list of names which was approved on a monthly basis. The list concerning Palestinian migrants stated that they will enter Serbia via Cyprus.

Nabhan, the newspaper continued, forwarded visa requests for these migrants to the Serbian consulate in Istanbul, and had visited the Turkish city several times to acquire his share from the sale of the visas.

The obtained visas were then forwarded to one of the ambassador’s contacts, a halal butcher called Zaki Nasser al-Bawwab who lives in Belgrade, and allegedly sold the visas directly to the migrants.

Associates within the network include an unnamed arms dealer, and the owner of the biggest hotel in Belgrade.

“Investigations are still ongoing to uncover the details of the case, as initial inquiries revealed that most of Ambassador Nabhan’s customers are characterised as VIPs only due to their ability to pay the required amount,” Blic reported.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is reportedly following up with the case after the information was published by Blic. A source from the ministry told local Palestinian news agency Maan under condition of anonymity that “the issue surrounding Ambassador [Nabhan] is under investigation” by the ministry itself.

Nabhan wrote that these “attacks” on his name stemmed from a verbal spat he had with strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who was exiled from the Fatah party in 2011 following allegations of financial corruption and playing a role in the death of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Dahlan now lives in Abu Dhabi and reportedly serves as a security advisor to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nabhan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. Middle East Eye has previously reported on Dahlan’s role as broker between a reported billons dollars’ worth of arms deal between the UAE and Serbia.

Dahlan and his family were given Serbian citizenship between 2013 and 2014, according to documents from the state’s official gazette analysed by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

Nabhan, who has served as ambassador to Serbia for just under 10 years, said that he became aware of Dahlan owning properties in the country in the form of land investments of more than 500 acres. He immediately informed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the matter.

“When Dahlan began insulting the president [prior to his exile from Fatah] I confronted him and told him that he does not have the right to say these things, and that instead he should bring up grievances within the leadership frame,” Nabhan wrote. “From then on, it became an open conflict.”

“[Abbas] raised the matter of the land ownership during his last visit to Belgrade and clearly stated that these lands were brought with money belonging to the Palestinian people,” Nabhan continued. “The Serbian president promised to study the matter.”

“From here the attacks on me started. They succeeded in recruiting a degenerate employee who works at the same embassy as I do to provide them with information that they then fabricated false stories from. To explain the matter of the visas and refugees, I have a note from the foreign ministry that says we have sent out visas for Palestinian citizens during this year, including the sick, students, and 81 delegations.”

Middle East Eye was unable to obtain a comment from the Palestinian embassy in Serbia.

Middle East Eye propose une couverture et une analyse indépendantes et incomparables du Moyen-Orient, de l’Afrique du Nord et d’autres régions du monde. Pour en savoir plus sur la reprise de ce contenu et les frais qui s’appliquent, veuillez remplir ce formulaire [en anglais]. Pour en savoir plus sur MEE, cliquez ici [en anglais].