Eleven Iraqis released after being detained in Lebanon

The New Region

May. 14, 2024 • 2 min read
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Eleven Iraqi citizens detained in Lebanon for attempting to travel to Saudi Arabia with tourist visas were released with the Iraqi embassy's intervention, underscoring visa complexities during the Hajj season.

Eleven Iraqi citizens detained by Lebanese authorities were released after attempting to travel to Saudi Arabia with tourist visas, the Iraqi embassy facilitated their release and is arranging their return to Iraq, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced Monday. 

“The Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Beirut facilitated the release of 11 Iraqi citizens after they were detained by Lebanese security authorities for attempting to travel from Beirut's Rafic Hariri Airport to Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities refused their entry and returned them to Beirut Airport on May 11, 2024,” according to the ministry statement.

The Iraqi tourists used the Lebanese Middle East Airlines, Saudi Arabia rejected their entry out of fear that these tourists' visas would turn into Hajj visas.

In turn, the Iraqi Embassy in Lebanon communicated with relevant security and judicial authorities, leading to the release of all detainees.

The embassy stayed in constant contact with the detainees' families over the past two days, visiting them regularly to assess their needs, and transported the detainees to a hotel and continued to monitor their well-being, according to their statement.

“The embassy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is overseeing the completion of other procedures until the case is officially closed and the detainees are repatriated to Iraq,” the statement further added. 

Prior to their release, Iraqi MPs quickly mobilized, demanding Lebanon's release of the detainees.

In a tweet on the X platform, Iraqi MP Yousif al-Kilaby said, “the ordeal experienced by the Iraqi citizens, including elderly men and women, being handed over to Lebanese security and treated as criminals, then jailed for four days, is a dangerous precedent that cannot be ignored.”

“Iraqi citizens who were legally traveling to Saudi Arabia with tourist visas were returned due to the specific entry designation, as the Hajj season had commenced,” he added

According to rules by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, individuals entering Saudi Arabia with a tourist visa are not permitted to perform Hajj; rather, they must obtain a specific Hajj visa for this purpose.

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